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Under the state’s new congestion pricing measure, starting in January it will cost $5.80 to get into a yellow cab in the most congested sections of Manhattan. Approved by state lawmakers earlier this year, the surcharge on for-hire vehicles affects all rides between Lower Manhattan and 96th Street during the busiest times of the day. But drivers of yellow cabs worry the fee will affect them more than app-based ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, which can mask the surcharge by tweaking trip costs (h/t WSJ).
“They’re not bound to metered fare, so they can reduce the price of the trip so that the passenger doesn’t feel the effect,” Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi said on Monday.
The new pricing adds $2.50 for yellow taxi rides within the congestion zone to an existing $2.50 pick-up fee, a 50-cent surcharge to go towards mass transit, and a 30-cent surcharge that funds wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
App-based companies will pay $2.75 to enter the congestion zone, with shared rides, like Uber Pool, paying a discounted 75 cents for each trip. Revenue from the fee is estimated to bring in $400 million each year to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Bhairavi Desai, told the WSJ that the fee is going to be “devasting.” Desai added: “The state failed to understand the gravity of the crisis.”
The concern comes after eight TLC-licensed drivers have committed suicide this year, as amNY reported. Some advocates attribute the trend to the financial hardships cab drivers face, as the price of a taxi medallion continues to decline and competition from app-based services increases.
This summer, New York City became the first major city to cap new licenses on for-hire vehicles for one year, as a way to regulate them and reduce congestion. The cap will allow the city to study the growing industry.
An advisory panel “Fix NYC,” convened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had put together a proposal that called for an $11.52 charge for passenger cars and $25.34 charge for trucks. But state lawmakers approved the surcharge on for-hire vehicles only and included it in the state’s budget.
A spokesperson for the governor told the WSJ that congestion pricing is the best way to fund subway repairs. “Next year, we will continue to work with the legislature to evaluate this surcharge and pass comprehensive congestion pricing once and for all.”
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