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Report: Biden Administration Could Green Light New York’s Congestion Pricing Plan

NEW YORK (77WABC) According to a NY 1 Report New York’s first in the nation congestion charge to drive into midtown Manhttan and below could rev up again under President Elect Joe Biden’s adminstration.  The congestion pricing plan had been more than a decade in the making but was held up by the Trump adminstration in 2019.

“Extremely positive,” said Brian Fritsch, manager of advocacy campaigns at the Regional Plan Association. “It was sort of incredibly unprecedented the Trump administration would weaponize the environmental review process to slow down congestion pricing.”

Here’s some of the basics of the congestion pricing plan:

  • The congestion pricing zone would cover Manhattan south of 60th Street, not including the FDR Drive north of the Brooklyn Bridge. Taxis and app-based for-hire vehicles (FHVs) could be charged as far north as 96th Street.
  • In New York City, that would mean a one-time surcharge in Manhattan south of 60th Street and north of Battery Park between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Proponents say the plan could generate $810 million to $1.1 billion annually while reducing congestion by 8 to 13 percent.
  • The surcharge would be levied on all vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street, and would be collected via an electronic tolling system, similar to EZ Pass

MTA Chief Development officer Janno Lieber recently said, “We’ve literally hired the consultants. We’ve designed the systems — the cameras and so on that are going to be implemented.” He added, “We just can’t move forward without Trump administration action.”

The electronic tolling system must be approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) before it can be implemented and that’s where the Biden adminstration would come in. In order to get approval, federal officials need to determine what kind of environmental review process the MTA is required to conduct.

MTA spokesman Ken Lovett said, “There’s no reason this should have been held up for as long as it has been, and we’re hopeful the new year will breathe new life into this vital project.”

The MTA is also seeking a $12 billion federal bailout. One billion dollars of that request would make up the lost revenue from delays in congestion pricing.

New York City would be the first city in the United States with congestion pricing.  It’s been done in London, Singapore, and Stockholm.  London began its program in 2003 and now drivers pay around $16 to enter its Central Business District from 7am-6pm. It’s still unclear how much drivers coming in NYC’s CBD would be paying.  Sam Schwartz, the traffic expert who was on Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel, suggested that the fare structure could go as follows: “$12 to $14 for cars and around $25 for trucks entering the city during peak business (and traffic) hours, and less at night and on weekends.”

However, a panel convened by Governor Cuomo would ultimately decide how much the surcharges would be and how they would be implemented.

The incoming Biden adminstration has not revealed yet it’s stance on the congestion pricing plan.  A federal Department of Transportation spokesperson said the plan is still under review.


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