New York City Mayor Adams advocates for increased congestion toll discountsDecember 1, 2023
A proposal to set Manhattan’s base congestion toll at $15 per car described by its lead architect as an effort to “satisfy the many and not the few” was criticized Thursday by Mayor Adams and other officials who expressed hope the final plan would offer more exemptions.Adams’ response to the plan was lukewarm. He told reporters he called on the MTA to seek more community input and consider more discounts, especially for those who are traveling to the city for medical visits.
City Council member Selvina Brooks-Powers (D, Queens), chair of the Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, echoed the mayor’s concerns. “Districts like mine are heavily car-dependent and the proposed $15 toll will significantly impact my constituents and others from outer-boroughs that do not have reliable public transportation access,” Brooks-Powers, who represents southeast Queens.
Gov. Hochul, who appoints members to the MTA board — which will have the final say in the plan — reiterated Thursday her observation that the $15 plan was lower than a $23 proposal discussed in recent months. “When they’re talking about numbers like $23 a visit — regardless of how many visits a day — I knew that that would have a detrimental impact on families, so I wanted that number lower,” Hochul said at an event in Manhattan. “The number released today is that it would be $15.” She added, “I know there’s going to be an impact, but we have to also deal with the larger picture, protecting and cleaning up our environment, protecting the quality of air, protecting mobility on our streets, and also protecting our financial stability of the MTA, because without that, it all collapses.”
Hochul has said the proposal is under review. Carl Weisbrod, chairman of the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which drafted the $15 proposal, said the plan spreads the tolls fairly and that the board eschewed pressure to grant exemptions to for-hire cars, essential workers, and other motorists. The proposal was met warmly by transit advocates. “The recommendations are fair, equitable, reasonable, rational and realistic, and reflect TMRB’s deliberative process,” Lisa Daglian, head of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “The base $15 congestion rate charged once per day is a good balance: high enough to make people think twice about driving, but not too high for those with no choice.”
The tolls will be charged to vehicles driving in Manhattan from 60th St. south to the Battery. The MTA is now building the infrastructure needed to implement the plan next year. Tolls are aimed at reducing traffic in Manhattan’s business district and raising $1 billion a year for the MTA’s capital budget. By the TMRB’s estimate, the plan will reduce traffic in the congestion zone — where an estimated 900,000 vehicles drive each day — by 17%.
Under the proposal, the base $15 toll will be charged to cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. Delivery box trucks will be charged $24, and bigger rigs and tour buses will cost $36. The plan offers some discounts — the fees will be cut 75% discount between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays on weekends. During those times, driving a car in the congestion zone will cost $3.75.
Cars entering the zone during peak hours via any of the four normally-tolled tunnels — the Holland, Lincoln, Queens-Midtown or Brooklyn-Battery — will get a $5 credit against the congestion toll. Motorcycles will receive a $2.50 credit. Those discounts won’t be offered when the nighttime and weekend 75% discount is in effect.
Under the proposal, taxi drivers, who pushed to be fully exempted from the fees, will pay the tolls via a $1.25 surcharge on their passengers. Uber and Lyft passengers can expect to be charged an additional $2.50 for every trip in the zone.
Low-income New Yorkers would get a 50% toll discount if they make 10 or more trips in the zone in a month.
John Samuelsen, the Transport Workers Union international president and a non-voting member of the MTA board, resigned his seat on the Traffic Mobility Review Board on Thursday. He argued in a letter to Weisbrod that the plan would fail without a massive increase in transit service.
“The MTA should be making transit more frequent, available, and affordable to attract drivers to the transit system right now – before the first toll is even collected,” he wrote. “On day one of Congestion Pricing tolling, there will be huge swaths of outer- borough New Yorkers who will find themselves paying substantially more to get to the city yet have no enhanced transit option to choose as an alternative,” added Samuelsen. Brooks-Powers called Thursday for broader consideration of an exemption for those traveling to Manhattan for medical treatment.
“Weisbrod said medical exemptions would be difficult to implement. “We decided that that would be inappropriate and very difficult … to actually enforce or monitor in any significant way,” he said. adipisicing, elit, sed do podcast. Ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo commodo consequat. La sambil sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. DOJH is tab tab melit tab.
The TMBR report comes after months of deliberation that began after the MTA’s initial plan was green-lit by federal regulators this spring. The MTA is expected to approve the TMRB proposal next week, kicking off a 60-day public review mandated by state law. The proposal is expected back before the MTA for a final vote in March. MTA officials say they plan to begin charging drivers a congestion toll in May.
Danny Pearlstein, spokesman for Riders Alliance, called the proposal a “win-win-win for transit, traffic and air quality.” “riders have organized for years to make it a reality,” he said of congestion pricing, “and we eagerly await its implementation.”