How congestion pricing could impact dining and entertainment around Times Square
Artist and server Crissy. R shakes up cocktails at Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine near Times Square. She says with customers frequently looking for free parking, she expects they’ll be shaken up when they have to spend an extra $15 just to get into the city.
“Sometimes they’ll arrive late because they’re circling the block trying to look for parking to avoid paying for parking,” she told News 12 New York.
Jasmine’s is just one business in the area bracing itself for the start of congestion pricing – which will charge cars $15 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street. Even Broadway officials are shaking in their kinky boots, saying their box office has never fully recovered since the pandemic. The Times Square Alliance says 365,000 people visited the area daily pre-pandemic. That number is still down by 18%. They don’t think the fee will help improve foot traffic.
“I would propose that after six months we evaluate this program, see if there are any unintended consequences," says Times Square Alliance president Tom Harris. "And look at a pricing scheme that prices everyone a little bit so the pain is spread around so we can have the money for that safe equitable transit system."
The MTA has reportedly said that $15 won’t be a big deal to someone spending hundreds of dollars on Broadway tickets and a meal. But Harris says Times Square patrons aren’t the only ones who will be affected.
“I know a guy who works at the Marriott, he doesn’t have a lot of money, he lives in Paramus, he has no choice but to drive in,” Harris said.
He says the daily fee will cost people who work in the area thousands of dollars a year that won’t be added to their salaries. Chrissy. R agrees those fees will add up quickly.
“I personally feel you could do a lot with $15, and it does accumulate, our dollars really count, and New York is expensive,” she said.
You can drive to Times Square fee-free until the spring of next year. That’s when the plan is expected to start.