New York City Congestion Pricing Plan Gets Final Approval, Could Begin As Early As Spring 2024
Congestion pricing in New York City is close to ensuring the first program in the nation to reduce traffic and pollution in Manhattan by charging drivers a fee to enter south of 60th Street.
The program aims to minimize the number of cars squeezing into one of the world’s busiest commercial districts. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.), which runs Manhattan’s subways, buses and commuter rails, is overseeing the congestion pricing plan.
Final approval was granted by the Federal Highway Administration on Monday, giving the green light to a panel appointed by the M.T.A. to decide on the final toll rates. The program could begin as early as spring 2024, said a spokeswoman for the administration.
While the M.T.A. has not yet decided on rates, the congestion plan is expected to generate $1 billion annually. This money will be used to improve the city’s public transportation network through efforts like building new elevators in the subways.
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Supporters of the program commend the M.T.A. on its agenda of reducing pollution and increasing maneuverability.
“It’s extremely important that we focus on meeting our climate goals and improving our air quality and especially improving our quality of life when it comes to our mobility,” said executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign Renae Reynolds in a statement. “Congestion pricing is going to help us do that by clearing up clogged roads, by investing in mass transit.”
Those who disapprove of the congestion pricing plan, however, are deeming it “nothing more than a cash grab to fund the M.T.A.,” as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-New Jersey) said in a joint statement.
Opponents to the pricing program also include taxi and ride-share drivers, who feel that the plan neglects low-income drivers and have noted that the tolls could trigger fare increases for riders.
“We ask you not to fund New York City’s public transportation system on the backs of an essential workforce that is still underpaid, overworked and subject to assault and danger,” wrote executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.
In light of predicted pushback, the M.T.A. has proposed limiting the number of times taxi and ride-share drivers can be tolled, increasing discounts for people driving into the area overnight. It has also proposed that the draft of the plan be subject to a 30-day public review before being approved.
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