Congestion Pricing Plan Back on the Table

At a time when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) looks to fill budget gaps increased by the continued reduction in ridership, the long-stalled congestion pricing plan initially proposed under the Cuomo administration in 2017 has taken center stage. The Central Business District Tolling Plan (CBDTP) would affect vehicles entering the Central Business District (CBD) which extends from 60th Street and south. According to the environment assessment for congestion pricing released by the MTA, the agency showed that it could cost between $5 to $23 to drive through Manhattan’s CBD, depending on the time of day and type of car; and commercial trucks could pay anywhere from $12 to $82 during peak hours. The toll would be paid using E-Z Pass and the program would allow residents of the CBD making less than $60,000 to get a New York State tax credit for CBD tolls paid. Qualifying authorized emergency vehicles and qualifying vehicles transporting people with disabilities would be exempt from the toll.

According to the environmental assessment report, “MTA commuter trains, buses and subway ridership would increase 1 to 2 percent and raise an estimated $15 billion per year from tolls alone, contributing to the agency’s $55 billion capital plan for 2020 to 2024.” In addition, overall traffic would be cut by 15 to 20 percent after CBDTP is implemented, with truck traffic decreasing by 55 to 85 percent. Findings within the assessment also determined that about “5 percent of trips into the proposed toll zones by car were made from within New York City from the outer boroughs, 3 percent were from the outlying counties, 3 percent from New Jersey, and 0.2 percent from Connecticut,” indicating that a minority of tri-state residents would be impacted. The CBDTP will now go through the public review process with six public hearings scheduled throughout August; and “if the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approves the plan, the state will have 310 days to design, plan and finalize everything that will be implemented.”