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Driving Change: New Yorkers React to the Implementation of Congestion Pricing





HOST INTRO


SAINT: The fight against congestion pricing has finally come to an end. Probably. 


MACAYA: After four years, the MTA board gave final approval to the plan yesterday. Starting mid-June, drivers going below 60th Street will have to pay $15 a day. 


SAINT: One of the neighborhoods that might feel a crunch is the area just north of 60th street in Manhattan…where the toll will be collected. Tommaso Baronio, went to Columbus Avenue around 60th Street to find out how people right on that line are feeling. 




BARONIO: The city says the new pricing will pay for public transportation. But that doesn’t mean that much to people like John Johnson. He drives his delivery truck below 60th street every day. He says the new plan is an aberration. 


JOHNSON: Because as a truck driver, for example, people that are feeding the city that are going back and forth, uh, that are making deliveries to actually, you know, pay for going to the city as much as they are paying other things.

Now you want people to fork out basically, you know, if I'm doing two trips a day, an extra 400 a month, which 400, 400 bucks a month, which amounts to a good, you know, like almost six grand a year, 6, 000 a year.


BARONIO: Joe Blank lives on the Upper West Side, I met him at Breads Bakery on 63th Street. He doesn’t own a car but he does take cabs. And he doesn’t trust the MTA will spend the money it earns from congestion pricing the way it says it will. 


BLANK: it's unfair to, uh, business people, you know, and to, um, you know, people who are taking cabs and everybody else, you know, who's going to have to pay for it, you know. But on the other hand, maybe this, um, this neighbor will be safer without so many cars.  


BARONIO  But there are also exceptions, like Mr. Davis. Who says he doesn’t think it’s that big an issue except…


DAVIS: They need more trains. If people are going to not be driving past 60th street. I believe that you need more train access. You need more scheduling with the buses and the trains. 

BARONIO: Who could answer New Yorkers' concerns better than Sam Schwartz, better known as Gridlock Sam - former city traffic commissioner. He says the fear that a flood of people looking for parking in the blocks north of 60th street is unfounded. 

GRIDLOCK SAM: People are not going to be walking in great numbers there because there isn't much available parking. And even if you did find the parking, you then You to get to your destination, you don't have to hop on the subway or a bus. That's another nearly $6. 

BARONIO: Do you think that New Yorkers are going to get over this?  

GRIDLOCK SAM: a year from now. This will not be an issue except with some hardliners that will always be there. New Yorkers would have protested. If God came down and said he's building the Garden of Eden in New York City

BARONIO Congestion pricing - like it or not - starts in June. Tommaso Baronio, Columbia Radio News.


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