NEW YORK (PIX11) — Congestion pricing has been a topic long talked about in New York City, and more details about the plan that could make it a reality were released this week.
Under the plan, anyone driving in Manhattan’s Central Business District could pay anywhere from $9 to $23. Officials said the plan is aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the densest part of Manhattan.
The details on the congestion pricing were released on Wednesday in an environmental assessment report the MTA sent to the Federal Highway Administration for review. The tolls would go into effect south of 61st Street in Manhattan, excluding the FDR and West Side Highway. There would also be an off-peak discount.
Under the plan, the tolls would bring in around $1 billion annually. The goal is to cut down on cars, thus improving the environment while also funding mass transit infrastructure projects.
“We have to improve our subway system to invest so that it’s reliable and faster and get people out of cars for a more sustainable environmental future,” Brian Fritsch with the Regional Plan Association said.
Lisa Daglian, with the MTA Citizens Advisory Committee, said, “It’s going to pay for more accessibility projects, pay for more safety projects, pay for better signals, better rails, improved stations. Everything that riders need to get to where they’re going.”
In the report, there were several scenarios that broke down how much drivers could potentially pay. The scenarios explored different options, including potential discounts and exemptions.
Still, there are many who say drivers already pay hefty tolls at bridges and tunnels and this plan would burden them further.
“I refuse to ever pay that price,” a driver said.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, of Staten Island, said, “Think about why someone drives into Manhattan, to begin with. Why? Well, if they’re a nurse and they’re working an overnight shift or if they’re a banquet waiter at a hotel, and they get off at work at midnight, do they feel safe right now riding public transportation? Probably not.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, from New Jersey, said, “If you need New Jersey to actually fix your budget problems and want to charge us billions of dollars every year just for people to commute into New York City, then I suggest you find another strategy and another plan because what’s been proposed here is completely outrageous.”
As for the next steps, the MTA will hold six public hearings on the plan in August for feedback. Then, the federal highway administration will issue its ruling. If approved, the tolls could go into effect at the end of 2023. They would be the first of their kind in the United States.