The road to Hell’s Kitchen was never quite paved with gold, but now it does have a gateway of six congestion charge cameras on the border with the Upper West Side.

Congestion charge cameras installed at W61st Street and West End Avenue
Congestion charge cameras installed at W61st Street and West End Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

On Friday, New York started installing the first of the 120 toll readers on W61st Street and West End Avenue, which will be empowered to monitor and charge congestion fees for drivers heading below 60th Street in Manhattan from Spring 2024.

When we dropped by to take photographs of the newly installed cameras, a driver was double parked in the street, shooting a video for his social media account. Jimmy Gomez, known on Instagram as @blacktiger12, posted and shared with his colleagues: “The city is ready to kill us with the tolls. Enjoy!” Gomez lives in the Bronx and is an UBER driver. He said that even though the city might charge the livery drivers just once a day, it was an extra cost they could not afford, adding: “But for the people who are coming to the city, it’s gonna be insane.”

Gomez is not the only one against the congestion charges. Phil Murphy, the Governor of New Jersey, filed a lawsuit to block New York’s congestion tolling program on Friday. Governor Murphy said on social media that he wanted to prevent the implementation of the controversial charges, suggesting that the federal government may have side-stepped conventional channels. Murphy said that the tolls were “anti-environmental, anti-commuter and anti-business.”

Congestion charge cameras installed at W61st Street and West End Avenue
Congestion charge cameras have been installed overhead at W61st Street and West End Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

If plans go ahead, this scheme will hit drivers with charges ranging from $9 to $23 to gain entry into the heart of the Big Apple (and Hell’s Kitchen). The final congestion charge plan included once-per-day caps on charges for taxis, funding for electric truck conversions and local park improvements. Officials from the MTA said the scheme could lead to up to a 20% reduction in vehicles entering Manhattan, and the state hopes to raise billions for transit upgrades. 

The scheme gained Federal approval at the end of June. MTA Chair Janno Lieber said at a press conference earlier this week: “We’ve started that installation as we’ve also started to build out the software, and what we call the back-office system for capturing toll information and generating bills.”

Many locals are keen to keep things moving without the interference of the New Jersey governor. Congressman Jerry Nadler, whose district covers most of the congestion charge area, said on Twitter: “New York controls its own roads, just as New Jersey controls the tolls on the NJ Turnpike that fund NJ Transit. Congestion pricing will benefit NJ commuters who rely on the MTA in NYC. Perhaps NY should have a say in, and get a share of, NJ Turnpike tolls too?”

Lincoln Tunnel Traffic
Drivers heading towards the Lincoln Tunnel at rush hour. Governor Murphy is challenging the congestion charge in New York City. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Responding to the news of the toll camera installation, Hell’s Kitchen safe streets advocate Charlie Todd said: “Personally, I am counting down the days for Hell’s Kitchen to get cleaner air, quieter and safer streets, more money for transit and less congestion on our roads.”

And Todd’s thoughts on Governor Murphy’s lawsuit: “The New Jersey lawsuit is laughable and baseless. It’s very rich coming from a state with some of the highest tolls in the nation. It’s also so absurd for Governor Murphy to claim the process, which has already been delayed by years, is ‘fast tracked’ and ‘without thorough environmental review.’ The Environmental Assessment is 4,000 pages long. The NJ governor should spend more money on public transit and less on widening highways on his side of the Holland Tunnel.”

Congestion charge cameras installed at W61st Street and West End Avenue
Congestion charge cameras installed at W61st Street and West End Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Earlier this week, amNY reported that the MTA had received more than 120 requests for exemptions from congestion pricing. They reported that if all of them were enacted, it would carve out virtually everyone from the toll.

In response to the exemption requests, when interviewed by NY1, MTA Chair Lieber said: “The bottom line is everybody has a good reason why it doesn’t make sense for them, or they should be exempted. Every one of those proposed discounts and exemptions end up raising the base toll for everybody else. We’re staying on schedule to get congestion pricing going next spring — and that means safer streets, better air quality, better transit and less congestion.”

Congestion Charge Exemption Requests
the MTA had received over 120 requests for exemptions from congestion pricing. Photo: MTA Presentation

New York will be the first US city with congestion charges. Over the Atlantic in London, they have been running a comparable scheme in the city since 2003. In February, Transport for London celebrated the toll’s 20-year anniversary, reporting that it had revolutionized travel within the city, successfully curtailing traffic entry into the zone by 18% during weekday charging hours, easing congestion by 30%, bolstering bus travel in central London by 33% and facilitating a 10% shift of journeys to walking, cycling and public transportation.

Join the Conversation


  1. Finally! Was this proposed in PlaNYC back in 2007? Too bad this doesn’t start at 86th Street!

    It’s funny the people who want taxis to pay through the nose! A) residents who live here primarily don’t own cars and take public transit B) ride”share” – “share” is in the name! How many individual cars does one yellow cab replace? C) You know who has been taking it on the chin for years? Residents. We pay local city income tax. New Jersey doesn’t. We mostly don’t own cars. The buses are slow and the price keeps going up. We already have been paying an extra congestion charge in taxis for years! If we rent a car to go to the suburbs we are going to get jammed with this just like everyone who doesn’t already pay the city tax already!

    Charge for ALL street parking! Streets are meant for motion, not to take up space for private parking.

    It’s ironic that New Jersey is the state where the drivers aren’t even qualified to pump their own gas!

    1. Ride share drivers increase the number of vehicle-miles traveled more than the cars they replace would’ve otherwise traveled. They should be charged and all the non-car owners should get on the subway and buses. NJ drivers should stay in NJ and find some local jobs, while we’re at it.

    2. Wait hang on – a) the pumping gas, incorrect. Read the history. The restriction was enacted to protect small, local mom and pop gas stations against the influx of Mega-Stations that we see sprawling across the country. It has nothing to do with qualifications. b) NJ commuters paying no city tax ? Wrong again. MCTMT, & remember – Port Authority is a bi-state agency where there is a net outflow of money from NJ into infrastructure within NY state and ultimately the city as well.

      I do however agree with you completely regarding traffic and parking, though I think the charge for vehicles is too small and I also think there should be no exemptions.. Will there be economic disruptions and cost inflation? Definitely, but a quiescent state will be attained with some fine tuning of the system.

    3. yes we do own cars bc the streets wouldn’t be congested if no one was driving. Plenty of people in New York drive and will be affected by this, and I have to go to work on the city 5-6 days a week.

  2. Hey HK residents: the bigger story here is that London has exemptions/reductions for residents of the zone – NYC does not. This is insane.

    We are getting absolutely screwed here. Congestion pricing can surely work if it is implemented properly. The current implementation is a money grab with pie in the sky promises. Our representatives quietly mention that they favor carve-outs for residents, but there isn’t any actual action on this front, and news articles barely mention it or avoid the subject altogether.

    I’m astonished by the disregard for the people who actually live here. Look at the details of this plan – they are required to bring in a certain amount of dollars, not to reduce congestion by any enforceable metric. It’s all about money, not concrete benefits to the area.

    1. In total agreement with you. NJ is actively advocating to protect the interests of its constituents. Our representatives are doing nothing for us. Why not have an exemption for residents of the district?

    2. Agree! HK residents are missed in this plan. Calling this a congestion plan is just a way to make it look like a positive for HK. It’s not a cap on cars in midtown. Have residents received any information from our local electeds about exemptions have been given to residents in the impacted area? Cameras are going up, where is the action by the local elected officials to inform and protect residents? Also, taxi riders already pay congestion fees if we are using Uber and Lyft when commuting. Is this going to increase if we live in the impacted area? This isn’t a congestion reduction scheme, it’s a pay to play operation. Most HK residents will be forced to dig further into their wallets to cover this fumble as it stands.

    3. You do have exemptions. If you own a car and are driving around the zone it’s free for you because you are already in it! It’s if you leave the same as going to New Jersey once you come back you must pay the toll for the Lincoln tunnel.

      1. Can’t come quick enough. I own a car and am happy to pay the extra pricing if it means less cars to endanger my child and myself when crossing 9th avenue, not to mention less pollution from the thousands of idling cars waiting to take their sorry asses back to Jersey each day. Jerseyans can use the trains, use the buses, use the ferries to get into NYC, and leave their cars at home for their weekend jaunts to Applebee’s on Rt. 17.

    4. If you live in midtown or downtown and can afford to own a car, you’re not in a challenging financial situation and my sympathy is limited.

      Who are these mythical HK residents that own cars? I’ve certainly never met one. Come to think of it, I’ve never met anyone who lives in Manhattan and owns a car. The sheer cost of parking is already prohibitive, not to mention, why would you even want to when it’s an objectively horrible way to navigate most of the city?

      1. I know many neighbors who own cars and are certainly not financially unburdened. I would love to never drive again, but unfortunately there are jobs in areas inaccessible to mass transit. There are elderly family members in areas inaccessible by mass transit. There are musical instruments and artwork and pets which are not transportable on mass transit.

        There are many unfortunate reasons why driving is sometimes necessary, but residents of the congestion zone cannot possibly avoid the congestion zone. I am in favor of ways to reduce car traffic – even congestion pricing, but residents should not be punished simply because we reside at a certain address.

        1. Completely agree. Imagine living in the suburbs and getting charged every time you took your car out of the driveway to drive a half-mile.

          While I too want less traffic in midtown, the only exemptions should be residents, yellow cabs (which are a necessity for people that we should be protecting, unlike Uber or Lyft), and delivery trucks that provide supplies to businesses or residents in the area. Anyone else from out of the zone should pay.

        2. “but residents should not be punished simply because we reside at a certain address.”


      2. I have owned my own car for years here and so have others! I use it to get out of here in the city!
        This is now becoming a Prison here in NYC than ever before! Disgusting!

      3. Nice to meet you. I own a car in midtown which I needed to transport my baby safely with a car seat and stroller. My garage has a waiting list for everyone who lives around here with cars. My elderly parents live somewhere without accessible public transit outside the city. As a single mom that was not possible to do without a car. And I’m for sure no financially unburdened with the cost of housing and childcare in one income despite it being a decent one.

    5. I couldn’t agree more. The only proposed exemption for those who live in the zone is a tax benefit for persons earning less than $60,000. For the rest of us, it is just as you say, a money grab. If I use my car, it means I’m taking it out of the congestion zone. How does it make sense to then charge me to come home (and park it in a garage)?

    6. How to remedy. Area residents are not super wealthy—even residents with cars. $23 to just take your car out of the road to visit grandma in NJ or go for decent grocery shopping is an additional fee we can’t afford

      1. I took the bus to see my niece in NJ a few weeks ago. It cost me $30 round trip. $23 does not sound so bad by comparison….especially if you have more than one person in your car. You’re paying to use something that costs money to build and maintain. Current driver taxes and fees do not remotely cover the real costs associated with driving.

    7. I agree with Greg. This “tax” will benefit all five boroughs, and residents living within the zone are not receiving consideration. Those living in the zone are being victimized by the City as our cost of living within the zone increases substantially.

      The cost of goods and services in the area will increase as we all have to pay for the uncharge of delivered goods into our area. Yet, no consideration from the City.

    8. We are Prisoners in this city! Getting worse and worse for many reasons!
      The Camera Companies are getting richer now too!

    9. Fully agree. I’ve been the admin of a Facebook group for years now called NYC Residents and Families against congestion pricing. It’s shocking to me that there is almost no exemption for residents who have no choice to avoid the zone.

  3. I’m not a professional logician, but how does making driving your car so prohibitively expensive that you can’t drive at all solve a congestion problem for those who can no longer afford to drive?

    By that “reasoning,” you could outlaw cars altogether and it would solve the “problem” of congestion. We could keep our cars parked in our driveway and admire the non-congested empty streets that we are no longer able to use.

    And, if someone is choosing to drive on a “congested” road in the first place, isn’t that because they independently regard that as their best option, considering congestion and all the other factors they are weighing, including all the other alternatives available to them?

  4. Can’t start soon enough…Just go to 43 & 11 Avenue between 4-6 pm… Complete gridlock with thousands of NJ cars , especially Teslas , Mercedes , BMW , etc…So much air and noise pollution..I think charge should be even higher….

    1. Traffic cops. Done. Congestion problem
      Solved. When drivers STOP blocking the box, traffic can move the way it should- there is no congestion! Years ago, I personally got out of a bus that was stuck on one block for 45 minutes. I STOPPED the cars from disregarding the red light and I Personally waved the bus as well as the other cars through until the light changed. Then I stopped them when the light changed. Repeat. When I left, they went right back to blocking the box!
      As for the people who live in Hell’s Kitchen- the Actors and Musician’s and Artist’s, etc, with large instruments and sets and props and costumes etc. as well as seniors and the disabled … people have cars and they do not make a heck of a lot of money. But do you know what the number one tourist attraction of NYC is? BROADWAY! This is harming the very people that bring in the most $$$ to this city! And do you think not every store, every business every fruit stand is not going to raise their prices to make up for the extra money it costs for their delivery truck costs? This is an unnecessary tax on the very people that make this city thrive!
      Low income housing is in this area. How are these people going to keep up? Good way to create even more homeless people as if we do not have enough already. I used to brag about how I lived in the safest place in all of Manhattan. Now it is one of the worst! Shootings, stabbings, robberies. This administration seems to want to completely tank the entire area. Building Casinos and amusement park rides! Changing the zoning laws?
      Congestion pricing is only one part of some huge disaster of destruction our politicians are creating with their eyes wide open.
      We should stop arguing the small points and try to figure out how to stop these horrific plans before there is nothing left resembling The Crossroads of the World.

  5. If anyone thinks the streets will safer with less cars in HK are only kidding themselves.

    The sheer number of motorized vehicles used by illegal migrants staying at hotels is mind boggling. They even have “Ghost Cars”. Uninsured cars that they use and if you get hit by it, you can’t sue; they have No insurance. There is no way these illegals are getting any congestion pricing tickets.

    What a joke!!

  6. Congratulations Hells Kitchen Drivers…you will now have the honor of paying to leave or return to your house. We all pay for interstate highways through taxes that even our fellow citizens in Hawaii enjoy. Not us.
    Apparently our politicians think that people drive their cars like the loop in American Graffetti. NOBODY drives their car unless there is no other alternative. All the public transportation is fine but most ( or many ) do not live close to a metro North or LiRR stop and have to figure an uber into getting to their start or end point. Also transportation is not 24 hours ( except on the subway ) but the city is 24 hours, try getting home from a broadway show at 11PM.
    WHY US…is the congestion on the Cross Bronx, the Van Wyck and the BQE not horrendous ( to name a few ).
    For all the Hells Kitchen residents who welcome cleaner air and safer intersections be prepared to pay higher prices on EVERYTHING because deliveries to our neighborhood will be passed along.
    Remember the City Council gave us Uber to reduce prices and congestion. There prices have soared and Hells Kitchen residents pay more. Our federal government stopped the tunnel expansion which would bring more trains in . It’s now been resurrected but I’ll be 85 when ( or if ) it’s completed. Why am I paying for Christie and Cuomo’s mistake?
    Finally as a Hells Kitchen resident I am environmentally sound. For 46 years I live in a hole in the sky. Taking up no land, I recycle , have a low flow shower and toilet and when I don’t use my citi- bike or the subway I leave my building in a Prius that gets 54mpg. I would own an electric car if I could charge it in my personal garage like homeowners do.
    It’s not NIMBY, we live in a neighborhood with homeless shelters, half way houses, runaway safe spaces among many others. We are home to the Port Authority, the interstate vans and the double decker tourist buses. The police park illegally on 42 st and the post office parks illegally on 9th avenue and 41 st. Our streets have been reduced by sidewalk restaurants , bike lanes and double parked Amazon trucks. I am in favor of the outdoor dining and the bike lanes but i have a right to see my grandkids without paying $16 dollars for the Lincoln Tunnel and then $15 dollars to drive a block. That’s my Hells Kitchen story but if any of my fellow residents think THEY will benefit from Congestion prices, you’re wrong.

  7. Love this. Love love love love the congestion charge.

    Look, if you want to own a car and drive it around you can live *literally anywhere else in the country*. Leave, go *literally* anywhere else. The entire country is built around your car dependency.

    But there should be one, single place in America that isn’t built around cars, where people don’t own cars, and where cars have to pay for the privilege of invading our communities. That place is Manhattan, and cars don’t belong in Manhattan. We have the best public transit in the country. Take a train. Take a bus. And if you absolutely insist that you cannot live without a car, you will be taxed for the imposition you cause on the rest of us. Your cars cause noise pollution, particulate pollution, lead pollution. They take up enormous amounts of space that could be used for pedestrian walking or street cafes or small parks. They injure thousands of pedestrians a year.

    We don’t want cars here. Manhattan should be built for pedestrians and public transit, not cars. If you’re unhappy, frankly I don’t care. Go anywhere else and leave Manhattan for the people, not cars.

  8. I don’t think this will do much for congestion, and calling it “Congestion Pricing” is a complete misnomer. It is a money grab, plain and simple. I only hope that the money will go where it is intended, and not in someone’s pocket. I’m very skeptical about where this money will end up and how efficiently it will be utilized. But in the long run people will piss and moan about this, and in the end they’ll pay it and continue to take their cars into the city, because they can well afford it. So I’m not convinced this will put a dent in the congestion issues.

    But all in all, I’m not sorry to see this program implemented. I live in HK and my windows look down upon two main roads to/from the Lincoln Tunnel. (42nd Street and the West Side Highway.) The traffic is unbearable and gets noticeably worse on a monthly basis. Most of the cars are from NJ, but there are plenty of NY plates in there as well. The NJ cars are usually enormous SUVs with one person in each car. One person. The cars sit in traffic under my window, spewing filth and making it dangerous for anyone to cross the street, and then, when they get impatient with all the waiting, they honk their horns endlessly. You’re honking because traffic isn’t moving? For goodness sake, you are the traffic!

    So I have no qualms about these people paying through the nose. And if you live in NY and own a car, then you’ve got the money to pay for that car and all of its costs. Parking is one of those costs, and now congestion pricing is, too. If it’s too much money for you, get rid of the car or move to the suburbs. You can’t have everything. I suspect that most people can well afford to pay the price, they just don’t want to.

    So in the long run I think this is a money issue. I don’t think it will significantly reduce congestion. I only hope that the money taken in will be used to the benefit of NYC residents.

  9. > Murphy said that the tolls were “anti-environmental, anti-commuter and anti-business.”

    This is hilarious. Less gas-spewing cars in midtown is great for the environment. Also, speeding cars driving THROUGH the city don’t patronize businesses; the people walking around do. This is very pro-business and every time cars are removed, business goes up.

    I really don’t care about the crocodile tears of car drivers. In one of the densest places in America, we already give up so much to drivers. Look at 10th ave, we don’t even have a bus lane, stop crying.

  10. After years of Ninth Avenue misery- not being able to cross the street safely, fumes, turning drivers ignoring pedestrian walk lights, single drivers in SUVs bumper to bumper trying to get back to Paramus with their hand on the horn. This is the BEST NEWS EVER!
    Your car is a luxury and there should be consequences for it ruining residents lives and health.
    Now, can we do something about the grown ass men riding Ebikes on the sidewalk/in the wrong direction/ignoring crosswalks?

  11. I cannot wait for Congestion Pricing to start….and yes, I will occasionally have to pay the toll. I will be paying to use something….the same way I pay every time I ride the subway. The advantage will be that the trip will be more efficient due to fewer cars on the road. It baffling to me that drivers don’t seem to realize that having fewer vehicles on our streets benefits EVERYONE, even other drivers…especially those who have no other option.

  12. Manhattan is an island and every island has the right to control access to its streets. Yes, Phil Murphy is making crazy claims, but he has to try in order to get re-elected. He would be smarter to start building Park-and-Rides near train stations and busses (as would New York suburbs and NYC boroughs like Queens). The goal should be to get more commuters on public transportation. We should be investing in improving the availability, efficiency and affordability of public transport. Look to the future of our metro area.
    As residents, we have been putting up with the dirty air and noise of this congestion for decades. We need emergency vehicles (like fire engines and ambulances) to be able to get down the streets swiftly (and when they can’t, we have to endure hearing those sirens that much longer). If you don’t know why we need congestion pricing, walk over to 9th or 11th Avenues near the tunnel entrance at rush hour when all those New Jerseyans are trying to cram themselves back into that tunnel.
    Of course residents who live south of 60th St. should not have to pay to get back home. That idea would never fly out there in the burbs.

  13. So they want to charge for congestion at the same time people are lobbying for a casino in Times Square or Hudson Yards? Ridiculous.

  14. Folks,
    Y’all be paying more if you are sick or frail and need to take a taxi or Uber to/from the doctor if you are crossing the zone.

    My elderly neighbor (not rich) can hardly walk. He needed new shoes. His son had to drive in from NJ and pick him up – and drive to NJ to a shoe store where he could park.
    There is no way to take an elderly person to Harry’s or Macy’s.

    1. this is the most insane thing I’ve ever read. Believe me… old people can buy shoes in manhattan.

  15. Hell’s Kitchen gets hit with everything. Housing for migrants in the hotels (fair to have some of them here – but what about putting some on the UES???), housing for homeless, during Covid – those let out of jail early were housed here, we have retaurants taking up lanes on the streets, bike lanes, bus lanes, pay a toll anytime we leave our homes and now they are increasing this with Congestion pricing. WHY AREN’T OUR REPRESENTATIVES FIGHTING FOR OUR RIGHTS???

  16. Who is anyone kidding?This will simply come to be another poorly executed mess of a concept with some legitimate intent. It will be accepted,albeit with incessant grumbling, abused, the funds plundered and misdirected and ultimately everything will simply be worse anyway. Bonne Chance, New York!

  17. Reminder: CP funds are for capital projects.
    MTA fares are still going up.
    MTA bus service continues to be cut.

    Current bus and subway riders will see zero benefit.

    And the City keeps enabling more congestion like the casino.

    But the bicycle lobby will be happy

  18. Let’s look at this.. if you look at license plates that invade 9th and 10th avenue they are mostly taxis and other rides. Then let’s look at the explosion of Amazon and the likes… many more trucks in the area. In reality these costs will be passed on to the consumers already struggling with high rents! I strongly believe these charges should be passed on to private cars that enter the area and should end by 6:00 pm. I’m thinking of the deleterious effect on theatre goers which at it is has not come back since the pandemia. For us residents of the area. …sure what the end result of this will be but we of the area should not be charged at all…

  19. 23$ is basically one hour of minimum wage. Multiply that on a weekly basis and it’s apx $125. Multiply that by 52 weeks and you’re talking a painful amount. Many of us have to drive for work or business or to care for elderly parents hovering on the brink of medical emergencies. A car is very often not a luxury but a much-needed necessity. The MTA needs to look to other means of raising funds. They hesitate to raise the subway fare 25 cents but have no problem raising tolls for drivers with legitimate needs for cars by an astronomical percentage. Also, in an age when Broadway and concert halls and dance venues are struggling to build back a customer base, adding this on top of ticket prices will make it harder to turn off Netflix and come in to see a show. Suburban busses usually do not run late enough to be practical for a theater visit. This is going to hurt commerce of all kinds in multiple ways.

  20. This can’t come soon enough. If anything it’s a low price for drivers to pay for the costs that cars impose on Hell’s Kitchen.

    Will the pricing be high for some drivers and lead to changes in behavior? Of course, and that’s the entire point.

  21. Everyone is in shock, but hold your local politicians accountable. We’re all reacting to a program that isn’t slated to begin until next Summer, so surely things will change and materialize. That aside, assuming the right residents get the right exceptions, THIS IS AMAZING! If this begins to deter the out-of-state drivers who bought a vehicle during COVID and stopped using public transportation to go back to public transportation, GOOD! The opportunity to reduce traffic on an already congested 9th and 11th avenue is joy to my ears!

  22. Where or whom do we contact to what ever discount being that I was born and raised in New York City, LES in Manhattan, it’s a shame that where I was born and raised and use to drive to and from, with the cost of owning a car, playing for plates, insurance, inspections, getting tickets for not being able to park in the street, paying high rents, high prices on gas, trying to buy food, making a low
    income working in Security, being a musicians for over 55 years and still going. My
    instruments are large, just trying to make ends meat. It’s a shame MTA should not force this type of situation, I do use buses and trains a lot, especially late at night, where there’s no Police on the train late at night going to the Bronx and other parts of the City, mind you I come from a Military and Police family, I work as a Security Officer without any weapons. It’s a shame the way this City is going, Governor Hochul This idea is not so good for everyone, remember I voted for you, also. I feel like MTA is forcing me to give up my car. What ever happen to my rights?

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