New York Governor Hochul touts NYC as the first U.S. city to move forward with traffic congestion pricing

Pedestrians cross a street ahead of traffic in New York’s Midtown neighborhood on June 17, 2023.

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After New York City was allowed late last week to move forward with a congestion pricing plan, Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday that the largest city in the United States is opening the way to “achieve cleaner air, safer streets and better public transport”.

Federal highway administrationa division of the United States Department of Transportation, on Friday gave the green light for New York to move forward with a congestion management plan, primarily through tolls in parts of Manhattan.

The measure could take effect as early as spring 2024, and would be the first of its kind in the United States, according to New York. Metropolitan Transport Authority. State agencies have 310 days to set up the toll program and associated infrastructure.

“We’re going to be the very first state in the country, the very first city in America, to have a congestion pricing plan,” Hochul said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Others are going to be watching. Other cities are paying attention. How’s it going to work here? Well, we’re going to show them. We’re going to show them how you do this.”

Although this is a new model for the United States, congestion pricing plans have already been implemented in London, stockholmAnd Singapore.

The cost of the toll is still being decided. A Six-member Traffic Mobility Review Board is responsible for determining the specific tariff structure.

A report last august on the plan’s environmental impact included toll rates ranging from $9 to $23 during peak hours, $7 to $17 during off-peak hours, and $5 to $12 during night hours.

Pedestrians cross a street ahead of traffic in New York’s Midtown neighborhood on June 17, 2023.

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The toll zone covers much of midtown Manhattan’s surface roads. Cars will charge at 60th Street and south, but not on FDR Drive along the East Side or West Side Highway. There will also be no tolls in the Battery Park Underpass or on the surface road portions of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel connecting West Street, according to the MTA.

Tolls will be collected via E-ZPass. For cars that do not have an E-ZPass, an invoice will be mailed to the address of the registered vehicle, MTA says.

The congestion pricing plan, officially called the Central Business District Toll Programwas set up by MTATHE New York State Department of Transportationand the New York City Department of Transportation. It aims to reduce congestion in Manhattan, improve air quality and raise money to invest in the city’s public transportation system.

Before the Covid pandemic, about 700,000 vehicles entered the central business district every day, according to data from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council shared by the MTA. In 2020, traffic fell to just 10% of normal volume, but has since rebounded to more than 90% of pre-pandemic levels, a more robust recovery than public transport ridership, the MTA says.

The MTA Reform and Traffic Mobility Act passed in April 2019 called for the traffic congestion plan and included some limits, including ensuring passenger vehicles can only be charged once a day to enter the area. Residents of these neighborhoods who earn less than $60,000 will be eligible for a state tax credit. The law also requires that overnight toll rates be lower than peak costs and that a discount be offered to low-income drivers.

Jan dearthe MTA’s CEO, said at Tuesday’s press conference that the plan required a 4,000-page environmental assessment for the federal government to approve.

“They studied it to death,” Lieber said. “And we’ve studied every intersection almost all the way to Philadelphia. And they’ve studied air quality, and they’ve studied everything that means, and they’ve said that this initiative — this dramatic historic initiative — won’t have no significant impact on the 28 million people in the region under federal environmental law. That’s what it means.

Some New Jersey Democratic lawmakers, however, are upset by the decision and the associated costs.

“This is nothing more than a cash grab to fund the MTA,” Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Bill Pascrell and Sen. Bob Menendez said in joint written statement released on Tuesday.

They wrote that the plan represents an attempt by New York “to balance its budget on the backs of hard-working families in New Jersey.”

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