New York Daily News

Help wanted: MTA’s seeking congest pros

- BY CLAYTON GUSE DAILY NEWS TRANSIT REPORTER

The MTA is on the lookout for top-notch transporta­tion experts to oversee the city’s congestion pricing program that will toll motorists who drive south of 61st St. in Manhattan.

The agency has over the last week listed five jobs related to the program, including a project manager to ensure the tolling technology gets up and running, and a director to act as a czar for any exemptions to the tolls.

The job listing for the exemption czar — officially called “Senior director, Back Office Services and Exemptions” — states the new manager must ensure that emergency vehicles and cars used by people with disabiliti­es do not pay the tolls, as is required by legislatio­n that authorized the program.

The listing also hints at potential toll exemptions for buses, yellow taxis and city garbage trucks. State law requires those exemptions and any others to be approved by the MTA board — but also mandates the congestion pricing tolls generate $1 billion in annual revenue to help fund MTA constructi­on work. The price of the tolls have not yet been determined, and more exemptions would require higher toll costs, analysts warn.

The job listings were posted around the same time the Federal Highway Administra­tion enabled the MTA to move ahead with the program after former President Trump’s appointees delayed it by more than a year.

MTA Chairman Patrick Foye last week said the agency was “ready to hit the ground running” with congestion pricing, which includes the launch of an environmen­tal review process the new hires will be expected to complete.

“Thanks to the Biden administra­tion, we now have that guidance and are moving forward with this historic project expeditiou­sly,” said MTA spokesman Ken Lovett.

The MTA board is also required to form a six-person “traffic mobility review board” to advise on the cost of the tolls and any further exemptions before the agency starts taxing drivers. Legislatio­n allowed for the review board to begin making recommenda­tions starting last November, but Foye has declined to say when it will be formed.

What’s also unclear is when drivers will actually start paying the tolls. Once the MTA’s environmen­tal review is approved by the feds, the Tennessee-based company TransCore can begin to make good on a $507 million contract it inked with the agency in 2019 to install and manage the tolling technology throughout Manhattan.

MTA officials previously planned to launch congestion pricing at the start of 2021, but have said delays by the Trump administra­tion pushed back that time line by up to two years.

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