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Transit officials approve New York City traffic congestion fee

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Wednesday approved a new $15 toll for passenger cars driving into the heart of Manhattan, making New York City the first city in the nation to approve congestion pricing.

By a vote of 11-1, the MTA approved the plan to charge vehicles driving south of 60th Street from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Traffic on the West Side Highway and FDR Drive – major riverside parkways bordering Manhattan on the west and east sides, respectively – will be exempt.

"This program will reduce traffic in Manhattan's central business district, reduce pollution, and provide critical funding for transit improvements," the MTA said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

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"We're ready for the next steps, and expect to implement the program soon," the MTA's post added.

PHOTO: Vehicles approach the Holland Tunnel, July 26, 2023, in Jersey City, N.J. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Vehicles approach the Holland Tunnel, July 26, 2023, in Jersey City, N.J. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)

Despite the approval, there are several pending lawsuits in New York and New Jersey that could complicate the plan's implementation. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also vowed to fight the fee on behalf of Garden State commuters into New York City, calling it a "blatant cash grab."

"The MTA’s actions today are further proof that they are determined to violate the law in order to balance their budget on the backs of New Jersey commuters," Gov. Murphy declared in a statement reacting to Wednesday's vote. "We will continue to avail ourselves of every option in order to protect residents on this side of the Hudson from an unfair tolling scheme that discriminates against New Jerseyans, especially lower and middle-income drivers."

The city has secured exemptions for school buses and “specialized government vehicles” that perform critical work in the congestion zone. Fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars are also exempt, as are bus lines like Greyhound, Megabus, and the Hampton Jitney. However, the fees will be higher for some other vehicles, such as trucks and some buses.

Drivers who earn less than $50,000 per year can apply for a discounted fee. Additionally, drivers who enter the congestion zone from the Lincoln, Holland, Battery, and Queens-Midtown tunnels will receive a credit against the $15 fee, since they’re also paying a toll at the tunnels.

Transit officials approve New York City traffic congestion fee originally appeared on abcnews.go.com