NEW YORK (PIX11) — If New York City implements congestion pricing, commuters can expect more reliable bus service and a slight increase in passengers on the city’s transit systems, according to an expansive environmental study released Wednesday.
The plan, however, will have no real effect on fares, according to an MTA source. The money generated by the tolling program — designed to charge drivers a fee to enter Manhattan below 60th Street — will be used for the upkeep of MTA infrastructure, including tracks, stations, and platforms, the source said.
The capital from collected fares is used to offset the agency’s daily operations, including employee salaries, the source added.
The Manhattan Central Business District (CBD), 60th Street and below, is the busiest commercial and residential hub in the region. Officials said the 10 busiest subway stations and two of the 10 busiest MTA bus routes are included in the CBD.
The congestion pricing plan outlined in the environmental impact study would charge drivers a specific amount depending on the time of day to reduce traffic in those areas, officials said. Depending on the scenario, drivers could be charged from $9 to $23 for travel during peak hours and from $7 to $17 for off-peak hours, according to the report.
The MTA is looking for about $1 billion in revenue annually to improve subway, bus, and commuter rail systems, according to the study. Congestion pricing is expected to start in late 2023 or early 2024, an MTA official said.
“The tremendous detail included in this assessment makes clear the widespread benefits that would result from Central Business District tolling,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. “Bottom line: This is good for the environment, good for public transit, and good for New York and the region. We look forward to receiving public feedback in the weeks ahead.”
The report provided seven tolling scenarios that determined traffic in the CDB would decline by about 15% to 20%. Traffic elsewhere in the region would only slightly change, depending on the location and the tolling scenario. The plans could cause gridlock at four Manhattan intersections, including Trinity Place and Edgar Street, East 36th Street and Second Avenue, East 37th Street and Third Avenue, and East 125th Street and Second Avenue, according to the study.
Transit ridership, meanwhile, would increase by 1% to 2% across all transit systems. Officials project more commuters using the ferries, the Roosevelt Island Tram, NJ Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, the Path, and subways. Express bus routes serving Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island would modestly spike, according to the study.
However, increased ridership will affect the use of stairs and escalators at four busy train hubs, including the Hoboken Terminal, the Times Square-Port Authority subway station, the Flushing-Main Street No. 7 station and the Court Square station in Queens, and Union Square. Changes would be made to improve the situation, officials said.
The pricing scenarios allow for some credits and exemptions for low-income drivers, those who make less than $60,000 annually, and taxi operators, according to the study.
The next step in the process is to hold six public hearings, beginning Aug. 25. Those wishing to speak at the hearings can sign up online at mta.info/CBDTP.
“The release of this Environmental Assessment is an important step forward in this transformative initiative to help us reduce congestion in Manhattan’s Central Business District,” State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said. “I encourage everyone to attend the public hearings and provide feedback and comments so that we can make improvements and deliver a comprehensive plan.”