Driving in Manhattan Is About to Get More Expensive

(Bloomberg) — New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is one step closer to rolling out a congestion pricing plan that will charge some motorists as much as $23 to enter Manhattan’s central business district.

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Tolling scenarios for the plan, the first for a US city, are outlined in an Environmental Assessment report released Wednesday by the Federal Highway Administration, New York State Department of Transportation, MTA Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and New York City Department of Transportation. The new fees are expected to bring in $1 billion in revenue a year.

During official peak hours, tolls can be as high as $23 and $17 during off-peak hours for E-ZPass holders, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. The report said different rates will apply for vehicles without E-ZPass.

For drivers traveling from Princeton, New Jersey to the Manhattan district, the average round trip auto cost will be $120 plus tolls, according to the report. Motorists coming from Dutchess/Putnam Counties in New York, will be charged a total average of $111.

EXPLAINER: Congestion Pricing, the Route More Cities Are Taking

The new tolls could come into effect by the end of 2023. The assessment predicts that traffic in the district could decrease by up to 9% and use of the entire public transport system could increase by up to 2%.

The MTA, a state agency that runs the city’s subways, buses and commuter rail, is facing a financial crisis. It plans to bond against new revenue to raise $15 billion to support its $51.5 billion multiyear capital plan.

“The tremendous detail included in this assessment makes clear the broad benefits that will result from tolling the central business district,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement. “Bottom line: it’s good for the environment, good for public transit and good for New York and the region.”

Motorists without an E-ZPass will be charged the most under the plan because they are not eligible for any credits, exemptions or discounts. Then it depends on where you are traveling and the time of day. For example, during peak hours motorists with E-ZPass crossing a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey facility will pay the standard $13.75 toll but not the full $23 proposed congestion pricing toll when entering the district of Manhattan because they can get credit.

Principal residents of the Manhattan central business district, located south of 60th Street, and New York State residents with an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000 will be eligible for a state tax credit equal to the amount of new tolls, paid during the taxable period. year.

The plan is likely to put pressure on an overcrowded public transport system and increase traffic on other streets, highways and tunnels. Driving in Manhattan has rebounded since the depths of the pandemic. Crossings on the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels have been near or even exceeding pre-pandemic levels for more than a year, on average.

Meanwhile, the MTA has seen weekday subway ridership plateau at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels as many office workers settled into working from home.

Read more: NYC Subway Usage Rebounds Faster on Weekends than Weekdays

Before the pandemic, farebox ticket sales and tolls covered half of the agency’s operating costs. That ratio is now down to about 30%, MTA data shows. That gap means the agency faces a $2.6 billion operating shortfall by 2025.

Now that the report has been published, project partners will collect public comment through Sept. 9, according to a senior MTA official. The MTA will hold a series of public hearings from August 25 to August 31.

After the public review, the federal government may step in with more questions. If approved by the government, the MTA’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority board will adopt a final toll structure, including rates and any crossing credits, discounts and exemptions.

(Updates with round trip car costs in fourth paragraph, adds chart)

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