Broadway Association Criticizes NYC's Congestion Toll
The head of the Broadway Association expressed concerns about the proposed congestion toll that would be imposed on vehicles entering Manhattan. She claimed that it would hinder the growth of the Broadway Theater District and affect the city's recovery from the pandemic.
Broadway Association's Criticism
The chairwoman of the Broadway Association, Cristyne Nicholas, criticized the proposed $15 congestion toll for entering the Midtown business district. She argued that it would discourage people from coming into the city, including the bridge and tunnel users who make up 30% of Broadway audiences. Nicholas also stated that Broadway was already facing challenges due to the pandemic and that the toll would only make the situation worse.
She mentioned that remote work and concerns about crime were already making tourists from the suburbs and New Jersey hesitant to visit Manhattan. Nicholas believed that congestion pricing would further hinder Broadway's potential for growth.
The Broadway Association represents the theater district and the Business Improvement Districts for Times Square and Midtown.
Proposed Toll and Concerns
Under the congestion pricing plan, a $15.50 charge would be imposed on cars entering Manhattan south of 60th Street during daytime hours. Small trucks would face a $24 toll, while large trucks would be charged $36. The tolls for trucks would be discounted at night to reduce traffic congestion during peak hours.
Nicholas argued that the toll was primarily a way to raise funds for mass transit rather than a congestion mitigation measure. She suggested that tolls should be implemented uniformly across all the bridges to deter toll avoidance and traffic diversion. Currently, some East River crossings are toll-free.
While the tolling initiative has support from some mass transit and environmental advocates, as well as some business groups, there are critics who believe it will have unintended consequences and increase costs for businesses and consumers.
MTA's Defense of the Toll
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), responsible for implementing the congestion pricing program, defended the $15 toll. An MTA spokesperson stated that the majority of theatergoers already use mass transit, and the toll would not dissuade those willing to spend hundreds of dollars on tickets, meals, and parking in Midtown.
The MTA argued that the toll was necessary to finance mass transit and support Broadway's rebound from the pandemic. They emphasized that the toll would have a minimal impact on Broadway shows.