NEW YORK (PIX11) — The program to implement the country’s first congestion pricing program is back on track, which means drivers will soon have to pay a little more if they plan on heading into Manhattan’s busiest roads.
At the MTA’s monthly board meeting Wednesday, Chairman Janno Lieber confirmed the MTA had answered questions on how the environment might be impacted if it charges drivers a fee to enter Manhattan below 60th Street.
Now, the Federal Highway Administration needs to approve the MTA’s environmental assessment. Then, the MTA can begin implementing the nation’s first congestion pricing program, which will operate much like the cashless tolling system in place.
“We’ll never be able to achieve our climate or air quality goals or try to prioritize street space for the types of vehicles we must have like buses, police, fire, sanitation vehicles and paratransit until we have a system that disincentivizes single-occupancy vehicles that clog the central business district,” Lieber said.
The agency will also need to conduct more public outreach, install devices to collect the tolls and set a price that will ultimately raise $1 billion a year in revenue. It is expected to use that money to then help sell bonds that would generate $15 billion that will go toward the current $55 billion capital plan.
Gov. Kathy Hochul is a supporter of congestion pricing, while her Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, has promised to get rid of it if elected.
Speaking at an unrelated event Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams suggested exemptions from the congestion pricing, including for low-income New Yorkers and those seeking medical treatment.
“It shouldn’t be just a blanket of, we’re not exempting anyone, and it can’t be just city vehicles, I’m open to a real conversation and hear from those who must use their vehicles. It’s different from it being a luxury and then a necessity,” Adams said.
Currently, the MTA says it expects congestion pricing will go into effect by the end of 2023.