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    NYC $15 congestion toll bad for Broadway shows, rep says

    The head of a business group representing the Broadway Theater District and Times Square gave a scathing review to the state’s plan to impose a $15 “congestion” toll to enter the Midtown business district, claiming it will hinder the growth of the Big Apple’s tourist mecca.

    “This is just another impediment for people to come into the city — especially the bridge and tunnel people who are so important to the Broadway theaters,” Cristyne Nicholas, chairwoman of the Broadway Association, said Sunday on 77 WABC Radio’s The Cats Roundtable.

    “Keep in mind, they make up about 30 percent of the Broadway audiences and they have been the slowest to come back,” she told host John Catsimatidis.

    Nicholas said the city has not fully recovered economically yet from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “This is not the same city it was 5 years ago. The city then was booming. The city was doing great. It was pre-COVID. Broadway was doing well,” she said.

    Broadway Association chair Cristyne Nicholas said in a radio interview Sunday that the planned $15 congestion toll hike will hurt business on the Great White Way. Getty Images

    Nicholas said remote work coupled with concerns about crime are making tourists from the New York suburbs and New Jersey “nervous” about coming into Manhattan.

    “Then on top of it you have this,” Nicholas said. “Broadway is doing well but it could be doing better and I don’t think congestion pricing is going to help it.”

    The Broadway Association represents the theater district and the Business Improvement Districts for Times Square and Midtown.

    The congestion tolling, which could take effect as soon as May, will impose a $15.50 charge on cars entering Manhattan south of 60th Street during daytime hours. Matthew McDermott

    “The economy is shaky. There’s got to be a different way of doing this,” she said.

    Nicholas said the $15 toll is more about raising nearly $1 billion a year to finance mass transit rather than a “congestion mitigation issue” to discourage vehicles from coming into the Manhattan business district during peak hours.

    She suggested all the bridges should be tolled at a lower but uniform rate to discourage toll avoidance and diverting traffic to other parts of the city. Some of the East River crossings are currently toll-free.

    Under the congestion pricing plan, passenger car drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street during daytime hours would be charged $15.50 and $3.75 off-peak.  

    The controversial congestion pricing initiative has been met by a mix of critics and supporters. NY Gov. Kathy Hochul has thrown her support behind the measure while fellow Democrat NJ Gov. Phil Murphy opposes it. AP

    The fee for small trucks would be $24 while large trucks would be charged $36 during daytime hours. At night, those tolls would be discounted to $6 and $9, respectively, to move traffic-jamming deliveries out of commuting hours.

    Catsimatidis, who owns Gristedes grocery stores, said the high tolls on trucks will merely be passed along to customers through higher food prices.

    Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-led state Senate and Assembly approved the congestion pricing law in 2019, setting up the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which last week recommended the $15 peak-hour toll hike.

    His successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul has thrown her political muscle behind the effort, attending a pro-congestion pricing rally last week.

    But Democratic Mayor Eric Adams is requesting some exemptions from the $15 toll for people driving into Manhattan for necessities such as medical appointments.

    Some Democrats in New Jersey, including Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy, have vocally opposed the implementation of congestion pricing. Some suburban and Upstate Democrats are also coming out against the toll.

    Republicans in New York have said they intend to use the issue against Democratic opponents in the 2024 elections.

    The tolling program is backed by mass transit and environmental advocates and some business groups, including the Real Estate Board of New York.   



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