New York Becomes First U.S. City to Introduce Congestion Pricing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
new york becomes first u s city to introduce congestion pricing

It was a bit of a struggle, but the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo have signed on a (decidedly progressive) $175 billion state budget. While the deal has a number of noteworthy inclusions, spurred by the newly elected Democratic majority in the State Legislature, the one we’re most concerned with involves charging motorists for the privilege of driving on streets of lower Manhattan.

Along with interesting initiatives to ban plastic bags and impose new taxes on high-end homes, New York has decided to become the first American city to introduce congestion pricing.

As a resident of the city, I’m not particularly enthused with the change — as it subjects vehicles traveling below 60th Street to a toll. While the amount has not been decided, The New York Times reports that revenue would ultimately be funneled into the city’s lackluster subway system and “other regional transportation needs.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has increased its prices over the last few years, hopeful that fresh funds could help streamline trips. However, injecting more money into the MTA hasn’t helped. Despite extensive renovations to several high-volume lines, delays persist. Meanwhile, critics have accused the MTA of rampant mismanagement and even political corruption. Signal issues are ongoing and equipment failures are becoming increasingly frequent.

Passengers are becoming less willing to believe the MTA hasn’t the money to solve the issue, with some claiming subway workers are already grossly overpaid (managers average an annual salary of over $200,000, according to NYT). But an equally strong case could be made for the city’s transportation infrastructure being quite old and in need of a multi-billion dollar revamp.

Regardless of the reason, New York’s subway has become rather risky to rely on as way of commuting. This, in turn, has compelled many area residents to avoid taking the subway as often, boosting the usage of taxi cabs or ride-hailing services like Uber. The byproduct?Magnified traffic congestion. Hoping to avoid another fare hike while streamline above-ground traffic, New York has decided to place the burden on the backs of motorists. Though just how much they’ll be on the hook for has yet to be settled upon.

From The New York Times:

The congestion pricing deal deferred many of the difficult decisions — how much to charge drivers and who will receive exemptions — to the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and a new traffic mobility review board. Eighty percent of the revenue will be directed to the subway and bus network, and 10 percent each to the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad.

The agreement also calls for an overhaul of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency that oversees New York City’s bus and subway system. Mr. Cuomo, who effectively controls the authority and who has been heavily criticized for the subway’s shoddy performance, has scapegoated the agency in recent months. As part of the budget deal, the authority’s policies will be changed to encourage speedier capital projects and to increase oversight.

“There’s two aspects to it. It’s M and M: management and money. I’m not going to ask New Yorkers for more money for the MTA unless I know there’s a better management system at the MTA. And this does both,” Cuomo said during a press conference on the matter, adding that he was aware the city’s subway system has only gotten worse over the years.

“This is probably the broadest, most sweeping state plan that we have done,” he said. “There are a number of national firsts and it really grapples with the tough issues that have been facing this state for a long time.”

While criticisms of the plan include suggestions that the working poor couldn’t possibly afford a congestion charge, studies advocating for the fee claim that most low-income individuals can’t afford to drive in Manhattan anyway. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to make them feel better, but at least they won’t have to pay more to ride the often-delayed subway system.

[Image: 4kclips/Shutterstock]

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  • Chicklet Chicklet on Apr 02, 2019

    Despite the headline, this massive tax on New Yorkers has nothing to do with congestion! The arrogant, far-left governor needs a few more billion to toss into the sinkhole of his personally run transit system, which recently legalized fare-evasion. He'll get some of it back by taxing certain motorists. Got a friend in government, you'll get a placard. Work for government, they've got almost 35,000 cars in their fleet so you'll be driving and parking wherever you want for free. Poor- exempt. Sick-get in free. It's no coincidence that 'congestion' rose as the subways fell apart. The city's first attempt to fix the mess was bicycles. They closed hundreds of miles of lanes and are now surprised there's more traffic! Pedestrian plazas, mini-malls, triple-double parking near any government building is OK, because they had a plan all along- once traffic slowed to a stop, tax the drivers! At best, this massive tax is predicted to reduce cars by 6%, but commercial vehicles will pay double or triple, so every single item New Yorkers will buy becomes more expensive. It's not about traffic, it's about cash for the governors friends. If you wanted to reduce traffic, you'd have trucks delivering after midnight, but nobody even mentioned that one. His scheme has absolutely nothing to do with congestion, don't believe the headline. It's about power- the governor just flexed his muscle to make people leave New York for good. Bye-Bye!!

    • See 2 previous
    • Bkojote Bkojote on Apr 02, 2019

      I don't think anyone would consider Cuomo to be far-left considering he didn't boot the IDC crooks. And if you think Citibike is the cause of congestion in New York City...

  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Apr 02, 2019

    If NYC politicians don't want a Trump type running the city and Albany, they better start getting a clue.... loss of trust in government makes people feel desperate enough to try anything. That should be the lesson learned from Trump's win.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?