MTA hearing filled with frustration, anger

Stephon Johnson | 11/29/2018, 11:59 a.m.
Tuesday marked the first of many public hearings on proposed MTA fare hikes and toll hikes.
Protesters outside of the MTA public hearing Bill Moore photo

For their money, the Independent Drivers Guild (representing ride share drivers) denounced New York State’s “unfair” congestion tax at a hearing held by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. The new congestion tax goes into effect in January and will cost riders $2.75 per trip on for-hire vehicle trips and $2.50 on taxi trips that enter Manhattan below 96th street.

“With the new state tax on top of existing taxes, Uber and Lyft rides will be taxed $5 on a $20 trip starting in January,” read testimony from IDG President Jim Conigliaro Jr. “For taxis, which are exempt from sales tax, $3 of such a trip will go to MTA taxes, with an additional $0.30 going to an improvement surcharge for medallion owners…putting the sham of any kind of ‘congestion’ objective aside and looking at the real issue of an MTA bailout, it doesn’t make sense to target Uber and Lyft riders there either. Riders of for-hire vehicles are working people who are already paying more than their fair share of taxes, including over $260 million in sales tax alone on FHV trips in 2017. While taxi trips, which are exempt from New York’s nearly 9 percent sales tax, generated less than a quarter of that sum in MTA taxes.”

When asked if the city should implement its own congestion prices plan, Kaessinger said it would be unfair. “I’m opposed to congestion pricing because it pits workers who have cars against people who don’t,” she said. “We should go to people who have money.”