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Uber and Lyft app drivers gather outside MTA HQ to protest congestion pricing

Ride-share drivers rally against NYC congestion pricing plan
Ride-share drivers rally against NYC congestion pricing plan 02:12

NEW YORK -- Ride-share drivers were rallying outside MTA headquarters on Wednesday, slamming the congestion pricing proposal.

As CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported, they were calling for app drivers to be exempt from the tolls.

READ MORETaxi, ride-hail drivers stand together to protest controversial Manhattan congestion pricing plan

The organizers of the rally said 23,000 ride-share drivers have already submitting complaints to the MTA, protesting what they call a double tax.

The group Justice For App Workers says the congestion pricing plan is beyond crushing to their careers. Adalgisa Payero Diarra was one of dozens of drivers protesting. She drove yellow cabs for more than 10 years and switched to ride-share a couple of years ago.

"It's going to kill the business we're already in a struggling time," Payero Diarra said.

READ MOREMTA's second public hearing on congestion pricing runs nearly 2 hours long as New Yorkers sound off

The congestion pricing plans aims to charge drivers an electronic toll as high as $23 when they enter the zone below 60th Street in Manhattan, with the West Side Highway and the FDR exempted.

"It's going to affect the customers who are going to have to pay higher fees, so our business is going to go down," Uber and Lyft driver Eric Dorfman said.

The revenue, estimated to be $1 billion annually, would be used to improve the MTA's bus and subway systems.

However, ride-share drivers said they already pay a $2.75 surcharge for rides into Manhattan south of 96th Street that is passed on to the customer.

"The TLC drivers, the TLC industry, we have been contributing to the MTA since 2019. Every time a rider gets in our car and they come into Manhattan in for-hire vehicles, it's $2.75. It's billions of dollars in the last three years," driver Israel Acevedo said.

READ MOREGov. Phil Murphy says he will kill congestion pricing if plan continues to require double-taxing of New Jersey drivers

They said this newest tax added on to the already crushing effects of the pandemic and current economy would be devastating to their jobs and families.

"Rising of the inflation, the rising of gas prices, this is so overwhelming," Uber and Lyft driver Henry Chen said. "The driver is not making any money, is not putting food on the tables. It is really ridiculous."

As the city considers congestion pricing, the first round of six online public hearings, giving the public a chance to sound off, wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm a Queens resident here to show my support for congestion pricing," one person said.

"I am completely against this congestion tax. To alleviate congestion, get rid of restaurant sheds," another person said.

The MTA responded to the rally with the following statement:

"Anyone who has been in New York City in the past decade knows that for-hire-vehicles are a part of the story of congestion in Manhattan's Central Business District, which has harmful air quality impacts and slows down the economy. Seven scenarios have been analyzed to reduce congestion, with a range of different approaches for taxis and for-hire vehicles. These scenarios are not being put forward by the MTA or anyone else at this stage as proposals, but public review and feedback is an important element of the Federal process."

One app driver told Duddridge he understands the need to go green and share the roads, but he just wants transparency.

"When it comes to the MTA looking to raise money, I think most people listen and say where's the accountability? How do you know what you've spent? How you've spent it?" the driver said.

The drivers said they'll be stationed outside of the MTA headquarters for the rest of the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to express their position in the hope that the government hears their calls for an exemption from the fee.

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