Council Member Holden proposes congestion pricing exemption for veterans

Views of traffic and congestion in the Central Business District on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.
Photo courtesy Marc A. Hermann / MTA

Council Member Robert Holden is proposing a legislative package that includes an exemption for veterans from congestion pricing.

The proposal, which aims to address critical transportation and public safety issues, is expected to be considered by the city council this month.

The Queens councilman, who represents District 30, which includes Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, and parts of Ridgewood, introduced his legislative package on Thursday, June 6, only one day after Governor Kathy Hochul halted the rollout of congestion pricing.

Holden’s introduced legislation (Res. 0450) calls on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to exempt veterans from tolls under the Central Business District Tolling Program, the official project title of the MTA’s plan to charge vehicles for entering Manhattan below 60th Street.

Holden, who chairs the NYC Council Committee on Veterans, states that these bills are designed to meet the needs of his constituents. “Being a legislator means listening to constituents and coming up with great pieces of legislation that are common sense and impact the lives of New Yorkers positively,” said Holden.

Holden has made his disapproval of congestion pricing known, meeting with small business owners in May to stand against the MTA’s plans and calling it the “congestion scam tax.”

Since the Governor decided to pause congestion pricing last week, citing concerns over the cost of living in New York and the MTA’s apparent dependence on the plan to work on other improvement projects, both critics and supporters have voiced strong opinions on the decision.

Supporters of congestion pricing say they were blindsided by the Governor’s decision and claim the MTA’s plan helps solve a larger issue of poor air quality and greenhouse gas emission rates. Furthermore, the benefits of congestion pricing are also supposed to give the MTA additional funds to help make transportation improvements across the city.

Holden’s legislative package includes other crucial transportation issues, such as increasing fines on commercial vehicles illegally parked overnight in residential areas (Res. 0449) and for drivers who improperly register vehicles out of state (Res. 0451).