More details emerge on congestion pricing

Recording Vice President's report

Volume 124, No. 4April, 2024

Harvey S. Mars, Esq.

Congestion pricing is finally upon us. Local 802 sent out an e-mail blast to members in January with information on how Local 802 approached this issue and how to make your voice heard during the public comment period, which ended on March 11. Local 802 is also doing its part to alleviate the effect on our members.

But how did we get here? Five years ago, on April 1, 2019, the New York State legislature passed a first-in-the-nation congestion pricing law allegedly to reduce traffic gridlock in Manhattan’s central business district, while simultaneously seeking to raise several billion dollars to fix New York City’s subway and commuter lines which at the time were in a woeful state of disrepair. The law was passed as part of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget for fiscal year 2020.

The actual implementation of the New York City congestion pricing program – aptly named the Central Business Tolling Program – is imminent. While the exact date is not yet known, it is widely anticipated that the tolling system will be active by the middle of June. The reality of congestion pricing is now upon us all. 

The program will impose a toll on drivers who enter the “central business zone,” running from below 60th Street to the tip of Manhattan (see map). This means that cars entering every single street and avenue south of and including 60th Street will be charged a toll. The new cost does not, however, apply to cars entering FDR Drive, the West Side Highway and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel.

That being said, if you exit any of those major roadways to enter a street within the central business zone, you will be charged. (For example, if you take the West Side Highway up to 50th Street, you would have to pay.) The tolls will vary somewhat depending upon the time of day or day of the week. Between 5am and 9pm on weekdays, motorists will be charged the full fee. 

The toll will be reduced to 75 percent during off-peak hours.

As it stands, unless things change at the last minute, the following fees will apply to each vehicle type during peak hours: 

  • Passenger vehicles: $15
  • Small trucks: $24
  • Large trucks: $36
  • Motorcycles: $7.50
  • Taxi drivers: $1.25 per ride
  • Uber, Lyft and other rideshares: $2.50 per ride

Drivers with an E-Z Pass will automatically be charged a fee upon entering the zone. Those who do not have a pass will be mailed a bill to the address of the registered vehicle. 

Public hearings were conducted in early March before the MTA’s Board for comment on the implementation of the CBD tolling program. I attended one hearing date on March 4, 2024. 

There was a clear and vocal divide among proponents and opponents of the program. Nonetheless, unless the law is repealed, the congestion pricing tolling program will be implemented and affected individuals must now be prepared to pay it.

Unfortunately, the MTA has not recommended a wide variety of legitimate exemptions from the program. The Traffic Mobility Review Board in its November 2023 bulletin noted that “granting discounts or exemptions is necessarily a slippery slope since each special case that is granted to some will inevitably lead to others who assert their claim is equally worthy.” Thus, at the hearing, I advocated that while a blanket exemption may not be available or wise to offer, there should be established a process by which exemptions can be granted on a unique basis for good cause shown. Individuals whose livelihoods may be compromised by the impact of congestion pricing should have the opportunity to make an application for an exemption on an individual basis and be given fair consideration of their request.

Whether this request will resonate among the members of the MTA Board is definitely a long shot, given its general resistance to any exemptions. The impact of congestion pricing should be raised during collective bargaining of our agreements as it impacts upon employee’s wages and terms and conditions of employment. It is thus a mandatory topic of bargaining. The Traffic Mobility Review Board in its November 2023 bulletin in fact noted that “it is the responsibility of the employers to reimburse employees for the cost of the CBD toll, just as employers might today cover the cost of parking, mileage and/or tolls.”

Local 802 bargaining committees should assess whether a proposal for congestion pricing reimbursement makes sense in the context of their negotiations. The congestion pricing reimbursement provision has been incorporated into all five of Local 802’s promulgated agreements, including:

  • single engagement club date (G)
  • single engagement classical (W)
  • public service
  • fundraising
  • our new member-leader/chamber ensemble agreement (see below)

For more information on our reimbursement language, click here to read the story from the February 2024 issue of Allegro.


I am happy to report that the Local 802 Executive Board at its March 12, 2024 meeting has approved a new promulgated “member-leader/chamber ensemble” agreement. I announced the creation of this agreement in last month’s report. There have been several revisions made to this new agreement from the one that I had originally proposed. These revisions are intended to expand the population of ensembles that might consider utilizing this agreement. One possible inhibitor was the minimum number of performances an employer would have to guarantee to be qualified to avail itself of the agreement. On reconsideration, the requirement of a minimum seemed overly restrictive and largely unenforceable. Now there is none.

Adjustments were also made to the health benefit and pension contribution rates to incentivize new ensembles to sign off on the agreement. It should be noted that all rates contained in the agreement are merely minimums. Employers are free to offer wage and benefit rates above the minimums if they choose to do so.

This agreement has a duration of one year. Upon its expiration, Local 802 will reassess whether it has been effective in increasing bargaining unit work as well as increasing union membership. 

This new agreement will make a great addition to Local 802’s new fundraising agreement, which has been very well received. I thank the entire Local 802 Executive Board for their input and contributions to the formation of this agreement.

The agreement also contains congestion reimbursement language, similar to our other four promulgated agreements.

To utilize the new agreement, send an e-mail to and we’ll route your inquiry to the correct Local 802 rep.