Governor Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel is poised to unveil its plan for congestion pricing in Manhattan to the state legislature today, and the New York Times has gotten an early look at the proposal.
The paper of record reports that under the proposal, vehicles driving in Manhattan below 60th Street will be subject to a charge: $11.52 for cars, between $2 and $5 for taxis or other for-hire vehicles, and $25.34 for trucks. The money collected from the endeavor would go to funding repairs to the city’s ailing public transit system, while also easing record traffic in Manhattan.
The proposal has been tweaked to address major concerns around tolls on the East River bridges. Cars that enter Manhattan on the East River bridges but bypass the congestion pricing zone by merging directly onto the FDR and exiting north of 60th Street will not be tolled. The Times notes that by their current configuration, it’s possible to bypass tolling this way on the Brooklyn and Queensboro Bridges. The Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges only feed onto roads that drive into the congestion pricing zone.
The proposal says the plan could be rolled out in waves, with fees on taxis and for-hire vehicles being implemented by next year with trucks and cars to follow in 2020. The FixNYC proposal is also explicit about how those fees will be levied: not until some improvements are made to the public transit system. “Before asking commuters to abandon their cars, we must first improve mass transit capacity and reliability,” the draft cited by the Times reads.
The report says that congestion pricing could bring in $1.5 billion annually. In July, MTA chairman Joe Lhota unveiled an $836 million action plan to bring some much-needed short-term fixes to the subway system. Governor Cuomo has pledged $429 million towards that action plan in the state’s fiscal year 2019 budget—a sum he pointedly called the state’s half of the commitment in a jab at Mayor Bill de Blasio, who maintains that it’s the state’s duty to fund the MTA.
De Blasio has also resisted congestion pricing in Manhattan, saying it’s inconceivable and calling instead to fund fixes to city transportation infrastructure through a so-called millionaires tax. The report issued by FixNYC sacks De Blasio’s claims that congestion pricing is unfair to middle class and poor outer-borough residents who drive to Manhattan for work, saying that only four percent of outer-borough residents commute to Manhattan for work in a car. Of those 118,000 individuals, more than half are higher-earning individuals. Fewer than 5,000 would qualify as working poor, the Times cites.