Details of MTA’s Manhattan congestion charging schedule revealed

Drivers could expect to pay anywhere from $9 to $23 in fees to enter parts of Manhattan as early as late 2023, according to the MTA congestion pricing plan unveiled Wednesday.

The amounts and timeline were detailed in a 34-page summary of the project’s much-delayed environmental assessment, provided to reporters Tuesday by the struggling agency.

“The tremendous detail contained in this assessment highlights the far-reaching benefits that would result from the toll in the central business district,” MTA chief Janno Lieber said in a statement. “Bottom line: This is good for the environment, good for public transportation, and good for New York and the region.”

The summary shows that the MTA is considering a tiered plan that would charge drivers the highest fees for entering the toll precinct — south of Manhattan’s 60th Street — during daytime rush hours, while charging those arriving in the evening or drive in overnight, discounts granted.

The MTA’s study outlined a number of options that its toll agency will consider, including:

  • A $9 fee during rush hours — typically defined as 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. — that commuters would pay once per day when exiting the West Side Highway or FDR into Midtown or Lower Manhattan. There would be no rebates for commuters paying tolls for tunnels or bridges into Manhattan
  • A $23 rush hour fee that would be payable by all drivers. But New Jersey and suburban commuters could deduct the tunnel fees they pay to get into Manhattan from that congestion fee. Under this proposal, the MTA would also exempt taxis from the congestion charge.

MTA officials said Tuesday the proposed rebate plan would cover 100% of the cost of the East River toll, 100% of the off-peak toll for Port Authority crossings, and between 90% and 95% of the peak-time PA toll.

MTA CEO Janno Lieber praised the fee increase.
MTA CEO Janno Lieber praised the fee increase.
Robert Mueller

For example, a driver coming from New Jersey and entering Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel could count almost all of their $13.75 tunnel toll towards the congestion charge — meaning they would pay an estimated $10 to continue to Midtown .

New Jersey politicians, including Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, have lobbied for such a discount.

The entire $23 congestion fee would have to be paid by drivers crossing the East River via the free Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Queensboro bridges or coming down from north of 59th Street. In fact, according to the officials, the higher congestion charge is necessary to compensate for the revenue lost due to the toll reduction.

Drivers would only be charged once per day for entering the zone, and New Yorkers living south of 60th Street can claim the toll cost on their state income taxes if they earn less than $60,000 a year.

The congestion charging program has two main goals — addressing Manhattan’s worsening congestion and using the proceeds to overhaul and modernize the subways, buses, Long Island Rail Road and MetroNorth.

Over the past decade, average traffic speeds have dropped 22% from an already paltry 9.1 mph to just 7.1 mph.

Buses suffered even more when speeds on routes running south of 60th Street dropped 28% over the 10-year period between 2010 and 2019.

The analysis found that charging motorists driving on city streets south of 60th Street would reduce the number of cars cruising in Lower and Midtown Manhattan by up to 20%.

Congestion fee revenue would also provide the MTA with enough money to fund $15 billion of its $55 billion program of major modernization and construction projects.

The money will go toward replacing old trains and buses, overhauling and computerizing the old and failing signals still used on most of the subway system’s labeled lines, and improving the route and reliability of Long Island Rail Road and MetroNorth paid.

Officials recently announced plans to expedite signal work on the Sixth and Eighth Avenue subways, which will improve the speed and reliability of the frequently delayed and slow A, C, and F trains through Brooklyn.

Despite political reluctance and forecasts of dire economic fallout, congestion charges managed to stem London traffic, Bloomberg reported.

The MTA says it will hold a series of public hearings on the congestion charging program through early September.

It then sends its recommendations to the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which is tasked with selecting from the menu of options presented by the MTA staff — including tolls and any discounts.

The MTA Board must then give its final approval before the congestion charging program goes into effect. Details of MTA’s Manhattan congestion charging schedule revealed


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