Published June 5, 2024 Updated June 5, 2024, 12:19 p.m. ET

By Carl Campanile , Craig McCarthy , Vaughn Golden and Olivia Land

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is ditching the MTA congestion pricing plan indefinitely — with insiders saying she’s worried that it’s “not the right time” as New Yorkers face a cost-of-living crisis.

Hochul announced plans to delay the $15 toll’s June 30 start date on Wednesday, citing the increased cost on working people, including teachers and firefighters.

“Let’s be real a $15 charge… puts the squeeze on the very people who make this city go,” Hochul said in a video announcement.

“I cannot add another burden to working middle class New Yorkers or create another obstacle to our continued economic recovery” from the COVID pandemic, she added.

The Democrat, who is likely to run for reelection in two years, had faced mounting public pressure over the dreaded toll, which would have charged drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street.

“I think the Post spotlighting the real concerns of working New Yorkers definitely impacted the conversation. It’s tone deaf to charge New Yorkers $3,600 every year when they can’t afford to put food on the table,” a source familiar with the governor’s thinking said.

“She just doesn’t think we can ask New Yorkers to pay a new fee at a time when the cost of living has gone up so dramatically.”

Another source close to Hochul’s office added: “The governor is concerned about the economic recovery in Manhattan and the cost of living. New Yorkers are struggling. It’s not the right time to do it.”

Hochul officially announced the indefinite pause Wednesday morning.
Hochul officially announced the indefinite pause Wednesday morning. Governor Kathy Hochul/Facebook
A map of the congestion pricing plan.
The plan would charge motorists $15 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street. NY Post composite

City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli also credited The Post’s extensive coverage of the much-maligned toll.

“But not for relentless and objective coverage from The Post and a few other outlets, this would have gone through, no questions asked,” Borelli (R-Staten Island) said.

A delay in the congestion pricing plan start date does not require legislative approval, but the state Senate and Assembly would have to approve legislation to make up for the subsequent revenue loss to the MTA.

Here’s everything we know about the NYC congestion pricing plan

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new pricing plan that would charge drivers a minimum of $15 to enter Midtown Manhattan was set to start at the end of June, according to reports.

The MTA argued that the additional toll was aimed at curbing and easing peak-day congestion in Manhattan. The controversial plan would raise about $1 billion per year that would fund major upgrades to subways, commuter railroads and bus systems.

How much would drivers be charged?

  • Passenger vehicles: $15
  • Motorcycles: $7.50
  • Taxis: $1.25 per ride
  • Small trucks: $25
  • Large trucks: $35
  • Uber, Lyft, other ride-shares: $2.50 per ride

Major highways, including the FDR Drive and the West Side Highway, were to be exempt from the toll, but drivers would be charged if they exited onto a street in NYC’s central business district below 60th Street.

The rush-hour rates would be in place from 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays, according to reports. During non-peak hours, the toll would be about $3.75 for a car. On weekends, the full rate would be charged between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Hochul said she would work with state and city lawmakers in the coming months on how to achieve the “objectives” of the congestion pricing plan without adding a burden on commuters.

Congestion pricing — which was pitched as a way to reduce city traffic, raise money for public transit and improve air quality — has been slammed by both parties as a “cash grab” that will drain even locals who don’t own cars.

The plan sparked a flurry of lawsuits — including a recent filing from the Trucking Association of New York that denounced the extra tolls for big rigs as “excessive.”

It was not immediately clear how the indefinite delay would impact the MTA’s $507 million infrastructure deal with TransCore, which had already installed license plate cameras to enforce the new pricing.

The delay was met with cheers from some of the toll’s biggest critics on both sides of the aisle.

“It is welcome news that Governor Hochul is considering delaying congestion pricing, scheduled to begin June 30, due to our pressure, the public‘s outcry and concerns it will impact Democrats in November’s election,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) told The Post Wednesday morning.

“I urge my fellow New Yorkers to continue calling their city, state and federal representatives because it is working. They are feeling the heat and this war-on-cars cash grab must be reversed!” she insisted.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) also celebrated the impending announcement.

“After a five-year fight, New York appears to have done right by hardworking Jersey families and backed off their outrageous Congestion Tax,” he told The Post.

“I want to thank Gov. Hochul, Gov. [Phil] Murphy, Fort Lee Mayor [Mark] Sokolich, all involved elected officials, and especially the tireless advocates who focused on the key facts: The Congestion Tax would have caused more traffic and cancer-causing pollution for families in northern Jersey and the outer boroughs,” he added.

Taxis and cars in traffic in NYC
The plan has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans. Helayne Seidman

Borelli added that “nothing has changed since 2019 but politics.”

“It’s only the politics, though perhaps enhanced by the arrogance of the MTA’s leadership and the finger-in-the-wind flip-flopping of congestion pricing’s original gangster, Andrew Cuomo,” he said.

The congestion pricing plan was passed into law five years ago by Cuomo.

It’s unpopularity was not lost on Hochul, with a source close to the governor noting a recent Siena College poll that indicated most Democrats – even Manhattan liberals – opposed the plan.

MTA board member David Mack said he was “pleased” with Hochul’s decision.

“I have always maintained that this is absolutely the wrong time to impose an additional tax on a region still recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic,” Mack noted.

“As to whether this decision was politically motivated, I simply say that if, at the end of the day, the correct decision is made and it is based on the political will of the people, then the political system has actually worked,” he shrugged.

International Transport Workers Workers president John Samuelsen, who also serves on the MTA board, suggested that the governor’s decision is a case of “I told you so.”

“I told the governor two years ago that if she imposed the congestion toll without increases in transit service, it would be a political disaster,” Samuelson scoffed.

“It’s like taxation without representation. She let [MTA CEO] Janno Lieber lead her around like a stooge.”

Helayne Seidman

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a Wednesday morning press conference that he supported Hochul’s decision to delay the toll, adding that congestion pricing “should not be an undue burden on everyday New Yorkers.”

Hochul’s waffling, however, came as a surprise to key Democratic lawmakers.

“Senate Dems have not been briefed or given a bill,” said Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), who chairs the finance committee.

State Sen. Peter Harckam and Assemblywoman Deb Glick said they also were not given a heads up about Hochul’s decision.

“I don’t really use terms like victory, but if this thing does get canceled, it’s the government responding to something that they did wrong,” Republican state Sen. Rob Rolison chimed in.

“It’s a tax and people should be screaming about it like we all are and I would say to the governor, respectfully, don’t delay it, just cancel it,” he suggested.

The idea to push back the toll was supposedly planted by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who is aiming to win back the Democratic majority this year, a source told Politico, which reported Hochul was considering pushing back the plan Tuesday night.

But Hochul’s plan was met with hostility from mass transit advocates — some of whom said the governor needed to “stiffen [her] resolve.”

“New York City public transit riders gave Governor Hochul her margin of victory in the 2022 election. Stopping congestion pricing before it even starts would be an outrageous betrayal of our trust,” Rider Alliance executive director Betsy Plum said.

“Congestion pricing is the only public policy that can make our subway more reliable and accessible, speed up slow bus service, and help clear the air as wildfire smoke thickens. Governor Hochul must turn it on June 30 as planned,” Plum insisted.