NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A judge ruled that the restraining order blocking Manhattan congestion pricing on yellow cabs and for-hire vehicles will remain in effect until Jan. 31.
Surcharges were supposed to take effect Jan. 1.
“The decision to further delay the implementation of this law will cost the MTA more than $1 million each day. The law, which was approved by the Legislature, will generate hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the subway, and we intend to defend it vigorously at the next court date so that New Yorkers have a safe, reliable transportation system.” said Patrick Muncie of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
Before the hearing, taxi drivers and advocates rallied to fight congestion pricing, saying increasing the price of a cab ride would turn customers away and hurt their already struggling business, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.
“How can I make a living here? What do you want from me? Do you want my heart? Do you want my kidney?” driver Nicolae Hand said.
Watch: Taxi Medallion Owner Speaks Out Against Congestion Surcharge
Hand, a taxi driver in New York for three decades, said he has nothing left to give, explaining it’s hard to keep up, considering the competition and the price to own a medallion, among other costs.
Hand joined other drivers making a plea to lawmakers to, “make fair competition,” he said.
On Jan. 1, a congestion fee was scheduled to go into effect for all taxi and for-hire vehicle rides below 96th Street, but a judge put a temporary block on the state’s controversial plan after a group of taxi drivers and medallion owners filed a lawsuit.
This is part of a bigger congestion pricing plan by Cuomo and the state Assembly to limit traffic congestion and raise money for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Web Extra: Read Complete Congestion Pricing Plan
“Yes, I believe that congestion price overall is a good idea, but not to target the yellow taxi and the green taxi industry,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, chairman of the NYC Transportation Committee.
The surcharge would hike the price for a ride at least $2.50 more. That’s in addition to other existing fees, bringing the cost of getting in a cab to nearly $6. Other for-hire rides would cost $2.75 more, and pool trips an extra 75 cents.
Advocates say they are worried rising costs will turn customers away.
“So if you’re going from Brooklyn into the Bronx and pass the FDR, the meter will click an extra $2.50. Not one penny of that will go to the drivers,” New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said.
Lyft released a statement addressing the congestion pricing issue.
“While Lyft supports the surcharge as a meaningful first step towards addressing congestion and transit challenges in New York City, in order to truly address these issues, it’s imperative that all vehicles, including personal and commercial, are included in this effort. We look forward to working in partnership with Gov. Cuomo and New York lawmakers on holistic solutions for New York,” the company said.
Desai said there have been eight driver suicides over the past year. One woman, who was holding up a picture of her husband, said he struggled with the financial burden.
“My husband friend commit suicide and my husband die from heart attack,” said Dorine Nitescu of Flushing.
The city has already put a cap in place for Uber and Lyft vehicles on the roads, but some say that’s not enough.
“What we need to do is charge the for-hire vehicles the equivalent to what the cabs have to pay, so that we can raise money for MTA. But we need to support the yellow system,” former Department of Transportation Commissioner Lucius Riccio said.