Motorists traveling into certain parts of Manhattan could soon have to pay a hefty toll before entering. New York state lawmakers approved a congestion pricing plan in 2019, but the city hasn’t implemented it yet. However, that might not be the case come late 2023 or early 2024 as the latest proposal nears final approval.
Political controversy delayed the program from starting last year, but now the program is nearing final approval from New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. One element of the program that still needs finalization is the actual prices. The MTA published its Environmental Assessment (here’s the executive summary) this month, and it lists possible prices ranging from as little as $9 to as much as $23 during peak hours. Commercial trucks could face a fee of up to $82.
The prices depend on the type of vehicle and the time of day, and the fees are expected to generate $1 billion for public transportation annually, according to the New York Times. The MTA is facing a deficit, and the program is designed to raise money for various infrastructure projects and upgrades. The coronavirus pandemic hurt ridership and revenues.
The final pricing could arrive alongside a list of exemptions. People with disabilities with vehicles, authorized emergency vehicles, and non-commercial passenger vehicles could follow different rules. The program also hopes to reduce traffic and pollution in the city.
Right now, the MTA is accepting public comments on its Environmental Assessment through August 31. Once that’s complete, leaders will decide on official prices before the MTA board provides final approval. The new toll district covers a large portion of Manhattan, encompassing everything south of Central Park, and it would affect commuters from New Jersey and other city boroughs.
This isn’t the first time congestion pricing, or tolls, has been proposed. It was proposed in one fashion in 1933, but opposition from residents torpedoed the idea. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a similar proposal in 2008, but the proposal didn’t pass. A 2015 plan also failed to gain legislative support, but the idea didn’t go away.
New York City would become the first US city with congestion pricing if the MTA approves and implements the program. London, Singapore, and others have congestion pricing.