NYC Congestion Pricing Wins Key Approval From Transit Board

Trucks With E-ZPass Face $24 Fee During Peak Hours
Bridge traffic in Fort Lee, N.J.
Vehicles approach the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg News)

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Drivers in New York City inched closer to paying a new fee to enter Manhattan’s central business district after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved the nation’s first congestion-pricing plan, which could begin as soon as mid-June.

The board of the MTA, which is implementing the toll, authorized the pricing structuring in a vote during its monthly meeting March 27.

The new plan will charge most cars $15 for entering the borough south of 60th Street during peak times and $3.75 at night.

Trucks and some buses will be charged a toll of $24 with E-ZPass or $36 without during the day to enter the congestion relief zone in Manhattan below 60th Street, depending on their size and function, and $6 or $9 at night. 

Drivers already paying tolls on the Lincoln, Holland, Queens-Midtown or Brooklyn-Battery tunnels will receive discounts during peak times to help lower the new fee.

The plan aims to reduce traffic, improve air quality, boost transit ridership and provide an estimated $1 billion a year to modernize the MTA’s network of subways, buses and commuter rails.

But the program is contentious and faces several court challenges that could block or delay its implementation.

While the MTA, transit advocates and environmental groups support it, critics say congestion pricing forces local residents to pay a fee just to return home and will strain small businesses that will need to absorb the expense or pass it on to customers. It also comes at a time when crime on the subways is an increasing concern.

For New Jersey drivers who commute into New York City, the plan adds a toll on top of fees they already pay on crossings to get into Manhattan. A New Jersey district court in Newark is set to hear oral arguments on April 3 in Gov. Phil Murphy’s legal challenge that’s seeking a longer environmental analysis of the program.

Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, the United Federation of Teachers and a group of residents have also filed suit to delay or halt the new toll.


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Those lawsuits have forced the MTA to put on hold subway signal upgrade projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Other projects are at risk: adding new elevators to subway stations, replacing old subway cars, extending the Second Avenue subway line to Harlem and even routine repair projects.

The vote comes after the MTA conducted a public hearing process so residents in the New York City area could voice their opinions on the tolling initiative. Of about 26,000 comments and testimonies the MTA received, 60% were supportive of the congestion-pricing plan while 32% were against it, according to an MTA internal document.

Taxi and for-hire passengers will pay a per-trip fee: $1.25 for taxi riders and $2.50 for for-hire customers, such as those using Uber and Lyft. Certain government and emergency vehicles, school buses and private bus operators, including the Hampton Jitney Inc., will be exempt from the plan.

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