MTA Congestion Pricing Plan Sets Peak Tolls from $9 to $23
John Jordan | August 10, 2022
NEW YORK—The details of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s long-delayed and controversial congestion pricing plan were unveiled on Aug. 10. The plan, which will now be the subject of public hearings later this month, calls for the implementation of peak tolls to enter Manhattan’s Central Business District ranging from $9 to as high as $23.
The plan, if approved, would help the MTA raise revenue of approximately $15 billion to help fund its $54.8-billion 2020-2024 Capital Program and future capital programs.
The Federal Highway Administration, New York State Department of Transportation, MTA Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and New York City Department of Transportation released the Environmental Assessment of the proposed Central Business District Tolling Program in Manhattan. The report studied a total of seven different tolling scenarios. Tolls would be charged to most vehicles once a day. Overnight tolls range from $5 to as high as $12, while off-peak tolls could run from $7 to $17.
There would be some discounts and extensions granted. For example, the report notes that there would be exemptions for qualifying vehicles transporting a person with disabilities and qualifying authorized emergency vehicles. In addition, residents whose primary residence is inside the Manhattan CBD and whose New York State adjusted gross income is less than $60,000 would be eligible for a New York State tax credit equal to the amount of Manhattan CBD tolls paid during the taxable year.
The CBD subject to the congestion pricing plan consists of the geographic area of Manhattan south of and inclusive of 60th Street, not including the Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Drive and the West Side Highway/Route 9A, the Battery Park Underpass and any surface roadway portion of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel that connects to West Street (the West Side Highway/Route 9A).
The Environmental Assessment found the program would result in either beneficial effects or no adverse effects for the majority of topics studied, including regional air quality, regional transportation, and parking. Where potential adverse effects were identified, mitigation was provided.
The assessment found that 85% of existing work trips to the CBD are made by transit, 5% by car from New York City, 3% by car from New York suburban counties, 3% by car from New Jersey, 0.2% by car from Connecticut, and 4% by other modes, including taxis, for-hire vehicles, bicycling and walking.
“The tremendous detail included in this assessment makes clear the widespread benefits that would result from central business district tolling,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Bottom line: congestion pricing 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.”
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “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. I encourage everyone to attend the public hearings and provide feedback and comments, so that we can make improvements and deliver a comprehensive plan.”
New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez added, “We must get congestion pricing done so we can invest in public transit, curb emissions, and reduce traffic, which has roared back to pre-COVID levels. This draft Environmental Assessment is the product of three years of detailed study and is a major milestone towards delivering congestion pricing for New Yorkers. We’re looking forward to hearing from the public during this important review process and we thank the MTA, state, and federal partners for their collaboration.”
Among the key findings of the assessment were:
• Implementation of tolls would achieve the purpose and need of the project—to reduce traffic congestion in the Manhattan CBD in a manner that will generate revenue for future transportation improvements.
• With initiation of the program, the number of vehicles entering the CBD would decline by 15.4% to 19.9%, depending on the tolling scenario. Traffic elsewhere in the region would change between—1.5% to 0.2%, depending on the location and the tolling scenario.
• Air quality would improve overall, with greater beneficial effects within and closer to the CBD.
• Reduction in traffic would result in increased reliability of bus service and
• Increase transit ridership by 1% to 2%.
The project partners received more than 7,300 comments in early enhanced outreach as the Environmental Assessment was being prepared, according to the MTA.
A series of virtual public hearings have been scheduled that will take place from Aug. 25 through Aug. 31, as well as a meeting of the Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Group, on Aug. 19, and a meeting of the Environmental Justice Technical Advisory Group, for Aug. 22. The project partners are accepting comments online, via e-mail, mail, voicemail and fax.
Following the public review period, the Federal Highway Administration will determine whether establishment of the program would result in significant effects in addition to the widespread benefits detailed in the assessment. The FHWA will issue one of two documents responding to the environmental assessment: either a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), establishing that any adverse effects are not significant or can be mitigated below significant level, or, if determined that there are significant effects that cannot be mitigated, a request for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) requiring further study of the proposed program.
If the FHWA approves the project, contractors would have 310 days to design, develop and implement the tolling infrastructure and tolling system technology that would process the tolls, the MTA stated.
Comments are being accepted online, by e-mail, mail, phone and fax, and at a series of six public hearings beginning on Thursday, Aug. 25, and concluding on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Members of the public who wish to speak at the hearings can sign up online at mta.info/CBDTP. The hearings will be accessible online at mta.info/CBDTP at these dates and times:
Thursday, Aug. 25, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 28, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 29, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 30, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 31, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In addition, the Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Group will hold its third meeting, on Friday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m., and the Environmental Justice Technical Advisory Group will hold its fourth meeting, on Monday, Aug. 22 at 1 p.m.
In addition to the hearings, there are many ways the public can make their voices heard. Beginning on Aug. 10, the agencies will collect public feedback on the Environmental Assessment online as well as via email, mail, telephone voicemail and fax.
Online: mta.info/CBDTP; e-mail: CBDTP@mtabt.org; mail: CBD Tolling Program, 2 Broadway, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10004; phone: 646-252-7440; fax: Send to (212) 504-3148 with Attention to CBDTP Team.
Comments may also be provided to FHWA. Email: CBDTP@dot.gov and mail: FHWA – NY Division, RE: CBDTP, Leo W. O’Brien Federal Building, 11A Clinton Ave, Suite 719, Albany, NY 12207.