Traffic congestion charge would boost air quality in NYC says study

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/10/new-york-city-traffic-congestion-charge

Traffic congestion charge would boost air quality in New York City, study finds

Charge of up to $23 a day would reduce number of cars entering Manhattan by 15-20%, assessment says

Pedestrians cross Delancey Street as congested traffic from Brooklyn enters Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge.
Pedestrians cross Delancey Street as congested traffic from Brooklyn enters Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Reuters in New YorkWed 10 Aug 2022 16.10 EDT

New York City could introduce a traffic congestion charge of up to $23 a day late next year, which a study released on Wednesday projected would reduce the number of cars entering Manhattan by 15-20%.

The city wants to charge a daily variable toll for vehicles entering or remaining within the central business district, defined as between 60th Street in midtown Manhattan and Battery Park on Manhattan’s southern tip.

New York, which has the most congested traffic in the US, would become the first large US city to follow London, which began a similar charge in 2003.

New York lawmakers approved the plan in 2019, and it was originally projected to start in 2021. But the federal government under Donald Trump did not take any action.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which must approve the move, said on Wednesday it approved the required environmental assessment. The agency will review public comments submitted by 9 September.

It did not give a timeline for its decision, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said the fee could come into effect up to 10 months after approval is granted. That period would be used for system design and implementation.

“Congestion pricing is good for the environment, good for public transit and good for New York and the region,” MTA CEO Janno Lieber said.

Brooklyn Bridge c1890. Toll charges were removed in 1911, and the streetcar tracks ripped up by the 1950s.

Passenger vehicle drivers could pay $9 to $23 to enter at peak times, while overnight tolls could be as little as $5. Drivers could apply existing bridge and tunnel tolls to congestion charges.

The environmental assessment released Wednesday found the charge would cut traffic, improve air quality, make buses more reliable and increase transit use by 1-2%. The toll would generate $1bn to $1.5bn a year and support $15bn in debt financing for mass transit improvement.

Riders Alliance, a transit advocacy group, endorsed the move and said congestion pricing “cannot happen soon enough”.

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