Yes, the MTA has decided to hold hearings for the first congestion pricing program, formally called the Central Business District Toll Program, across the country during the last week of summer. So I’ll try to summarize the plan below, based on a reading of the executive summary of the environmental assessment required by the feds. See the sschedule hearings herewhich will take place at different times from August 25 to 31. You can too comment online here.
My executive summary: If you have a car in the neighborhood, it will cost you at least $20 to leave for the weekend. And workers coming into Manhattan from outside the borough are likely to pass that toll on you, if they have to drive. The stated goal of reducing traffic by 10 percent seems too modest a goal, especially since car traffic in the city center has increased since the pandemic. I just hope the results are more similar to London and Stockholm, where traffic was reduced by 25 percent and carbon dioxide pollution by up to 20 percent.
So here goes:
This is a toll program that aims to 1) reduce traffic in Manhattan and 2) increase revenue for the MTA. The state legislature enacted the MTA Transit Mobility and Reform Act in 2019, which mandates the MTA’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority to design, develop, construct and operate the toll program of central business district.
WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES?
Reduce daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) within the Manhattan CBD by at least 5 percent Reduce the number of vehicles entering the Manhattan CBD daily by at least 10 percent. Create a funding source for $15 billion in capital projects for the MTA Capital Program
WHO WILL PAGE BE?
All vehicles entering the Central Business District will be tolled (except for emergency vehicles, vehicles transporting people with disabilities, or any vehicle belonging to families living within the Manhattan congestion pricing zone in which the household wins $60,000 or less per year). You will also be charged the toll when you leave, depending on the day of departure. Below are specific examples taken from the executive summary of the environmental assessment document. But bottom line: if you have a car in Tribeca, you will be charged when you leave and when you come back, but not just for staying in the CBD.
HOW WILL THE MTA COLLECT?
The toll would be paid with an E-ZPass. If you do not have an E-ZPass, toll bills will be mailed to the registered vehicle owner’s address and paid through Tolls by Mail. Fees may be higher if you do not have E-ZPass.
Tolls could range from $9 to $23 per trip during peak, $7 to $17 off-peak, and $5 to $12 overnight. The state legislature requires the MTA to raise $15 billion from the program, so if there are more exemptions, toll rates would have to increase. This is what the ranks reflect: the lowest is the base plane; the highest is a scenario that considers multiple exemptions.
Vehicles can only be charged once per day.
WHAT IS THE DISTRICT?
All south of 60th Street. However, if your car stays on the FDR Drive or the West Side Highway or the Battery Park Underpass, you will not be charged a toll.
WHEN DOES THIS START?
Things could move quickly if the program is approved by the feds and the MTA can move forward. But the toll system still needs to be designed and installed, and that should take a year. So late 2023 or early 2024.
SO TELL ME AGAIN: EXACTLY HOW AND WHEN IS IT GOING TO PUT ME ON?
These examples are taken directly from the MTA document:
• A car enters Manhattan’s CBD on Monday morning and leaves Monday evening before midnight. It would be detected when entering and leaving the Manhattan CBD. Since passenger vehicles would only be tolled once a day, a single toll would be charged.
• A car enters the Manhattan CBD on Monday and parks until it leaves on Wednesday. He would be charged to enter on Monday and to stay when he drove through the Manhattan CBD on Wednesday to leave. It would not be charged when parked 24 hours on Tuesday.
• A car makes two round trips to the Manhattan CBD on the same day. A single toll would be charged, because passenger vehicles would only be tolled once a day.
• A car is parked all week within the Manhattan CBD and then leaves the Manhattan CBD for a day trip on Saturday, returning before midnight. The car would be detected leaving (staying) and entering the Manhattan CBD on the same day. Since passenger vehicles would only be tolled once a day, a single toll would be collected on Saturday.
• A car is parked all week in the Manhattan CBD and then leaves the Manhattan CBD on Friday and returns on Monday. The car would be detected leaving (staying) on Friday and entering when it returns on Monday. You will be charged on Friday for the rest and on Monday for the entrance. It wouldn’t be charged any other day when I was parked all day in the Manhattan CBD, or the days I wasn’t.