Is congestion pricing coming to Manhattan for real?
Tolls collected to drive in the borough would fund repairs on the city’s crumbling subway system, according to Fix NYC’s plan.
Before long, motorists could pay nearly $12 to travel on Manhattan’s busy streets if a congestion pricing plan unveiled Friday goes into effect, The New York Times reported.
The proposal is by Fix NYC, a taskforce created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he declared a state of emergency for the MTA’s aged subway system in June.
If the congestion pricing plan is approved, cars traveling below 60th Street in Manhattan would face an $11.52 toll, while trucks would be charged $25.34. Taxis and other for-hire vehicles (FHV) would see a fee between $2 and $5, the Times reported.
The congestion pricing money would fund the much-needed fixes for the city’s transit system, which Cuomo oversees.
The surcharges for taxis and FHVs could go into effect within a year, while those for cars and trucks would begin in 2020.
“Before asking commuters to abandon their cars, we must first improve mass transit capacity and reliability,” the Times reported, citing a proposal draft.
The plan needs state legislature approval, and Cuomo said in a statement Friday he will discuss it with lawmakers “over the next several months.”
"There is no doubt that we must finally address the undeniable, growing problem of traffic congestion in Manhattan's central business district and present a real, feasible plan that will pass the legislature to raise money for MTA improvements, without raising rider fares,” he continued.
Though he said on WNYC-AM Friday he’d like a guarantee the congestion pricing plan would fund MTA fixes, Mayor Bill de Blasio added that it “shows improvement over previous plans we have seen over the years.”
However, he still feels his proposed “millionaire’s tax” is the “most reliable, most verifiable way to get that permanent funding for the MTA,” he said.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also wants to ensure the funds go directly to transit.
“If a congestion pricing proposal is implemented in Manhattan, the funds raised must be earmarked to repair our city’s subway system by establishing a dedicated fund for New York City Transit,” he said in a statement.
Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, feels Cuomo has taken the first steps toward finally fixing the beleaguered subway.
“Congestion pricing is a fair, equitable way to raise funding for mass transit: Almost everyone who travels to Midtown Manhattan pays to do so, whether it’s via subway, bus, Citi Bike or ferry,” he said. “The only folks who don’t pay at all are drivers — and those cars are clogging our streets, polluting our air and harming the economy. If you choose to drive into the most transit-rich neighborhoods in the United States, it’s only fair that you also pay your fair share, too.”
Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin is urging Cuomo to now make Fix NYC’s suggestions a reality.
“As the most powerful political leader in New York, when the governor decides to make something a policy priority, he usually prevails. In this time of crisis, Gov. Cuomo needs to put passing congestion pricing and fixing the subways at the top of his agenda,” he said.
Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, however, is concerned about the proposed FHV fees.
“Many New York City for-hire vehicle drivers are earning less than minimum wage after expenses,” he said. “While important details are not yet defined, any plan that shifts further financial burden on to these 100,000 workers and their families would be devastating.”
The IDG represents more than 60,000 app-based FHV drivers.