Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/VIEWpress

New York City is preparing to enact what could be the nation’s first downtown congestion charges, mirroring successful programs in some of the largest cities in the world. The program could cost drivers up to $23 per vehicle to reach the most heavily trafficked parts of Manhattan, though the proposal has been met with pushback and may face a legal challenge.

The program is reported by the New York Times to have been approved Monday by the Federal Highway Administration, readying it for implementation as soon as spring 2024. Drivers could under one proposal be charged $17 during off-peak hours or $23 during rush hour to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street, one of the most backed-up road systems in the world. Rates—along with discounts and exemptions—would be determined by the program’s beneficiary, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the city’s buses, subways, and commuter trains.

Congestion pricing is intended to reduce traffic and pollution while funding city transit to the tune of an estimated $1 billion annually. The money would reportedly be invested in the MTA’s facilities, such as elevators in subway stations to improve accessibility and more modern signaling to ease operations. It would also be invested in neighborhoods that could see increased traffic as a result, such as with improved air filtration in schools. It would not be used to cover the MTA’s operational costs, though.

Map of proposed NYC congestion charge zone. Fix NYC via Streets Blog

Similar congestion charges have proven effective in some of the biggest cities in the world, such as London and Singapore. NYC has been considering congestion charges since 2007, when they were proposed by then-Mayor Bloomberg, though they failed in the state legislature. They have been lauded as more equitable by unspecified “experts” according to NYT, but also opposed by industries and out-of-town commuters.

Opponents include taxi drivers and ride share companies, due to a projected 17-percent reduction in demand for their services. Residents of suburbs outside the city, including commuters from New Jersey, have also voiced their displeasure with the proposal. Some New Jersey politicians may also be preparing a lawsuit to prevent the congestion charge program.

Exemptions, however, have been floated, such as for commuters who have already paid tolls for the Holland or Lincoln tunnels, while discounts for low-income drivers and overnight visitors are also reportedly in the cards. Commercial drivers may also receive some accommodation under the scheme. The MTA has reportedly proposed checking in with small businesses within the toll zone to determine whether the congestion charges harm them.

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The post NYC Congestion Charge Could Cost Drivers $23 Per Trip Starting Next Spring appeared first on The Drive.

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