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The MTA has finally approved the entrance fee to Manhattan: who will have to pay and how much?

'06.12.2023'

Alina Prikhodko

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The MTA Board has approved a plan to charge congestion into downtown New York. Passenger cars will be charged $15, trucks will be charged between $24 and $36 depending on size, and motorcycles will be charged $7,50, it said. NBC New York.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board on Wednesday, December 6, overwhelmingly approved a plan that would allocate millions of dollars to develop the city's aging transit system. It would help reduce traffic congestion by charging drivers to enter the greater Manhattan area.

The Transportation Mobility Review Board submitted its report to the MTA on Nov. 30, outlining general principles for implementing fares, including costs, when certain prices will be valid, who will receive benefits, and more. Passenger cars will be charged $15 to enter Manhattan at 60th Street and below, while trucks will be charged between $24 and $36, depending on size.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has been a vocal supporter of congestion pricing in Manhattan amid traffic congestion, welcomed the council's approval.

On the subject: New York bridge and tunnel tolls to rise next week

Only one MTA board member spoke against the plan when it came up for a vote Wednesday morning. “$24 is how much it will cost to visit your son or daughter, to a show or dinner. I can’t vote for this, I’m sorry,” said Councilman David Mack.

Who will pay and how much?

The innovation will affect any driver entering the so-called Central Business District (CBD), which extends from 60th Street in Manhattan and below, down to the southern part of the Financial District. That is, most drivers entering midtown Manhattan and below will be forced to pay the toll, the council's report said.

The fee will apply to all drivers of cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles.

  • Cars: $15
  • Small trucks (box trucks, cargo vans, etc.): $24
  • Large trucks: $36
  • Motorcycles: $7,50

The full daily rate will be valid from 5:00 to 21:00 on weekdays and from 9:00 to 21:00 on weekends. During non-working hours (from 21:00 to 5:00 on weekdays and from 21:00 to 9:00 on weekends) the fee will be 75% lower - about $3,50 instead of $15 for a passenger car.

Drivers will only pay to enter the zone, not to leave or stay in it. This means residents who drive into the CBD and drive around their block to find parking will not be charged.

There is only one fee per day, meaning those entering, leaving and returning will only be charged once.

Are Uber, Lyft and other services exempt?

The toll does not apply to taxis, but drivers will be charged an additional $1,25 per ride. The same rules apply to drivers of Uber, Lyft and other services, but they will pay a surcharge of $2,50.

Other exceptions

Many groups have hoped to gain exemptions, but few will be able to avoid the toll entirely. This small group includes only specialized government vehicles (such as snow plows) and emergency vehicles.

Low-income drivers making less than $50 a year can apply for half the cost of a daytime fare, but only after the first 000 trips in a month.

While not a toll waiver, so-called toll credits will be available for drivers using any of the four tunnels to enter Manhattan. That is, those who already pay, for example in the Lincoln or Holland Tunnel, will not pay the full toll. Credit amounts are $5 per trip for passenger vehicles, $2,50 for motorcycles, $12 for small trucks and $20 for large trucks.

Drivers from Long Island and Queens who use the Queens-Midtown Tunnel will receive the same benefits as those who use the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Those traveling on the George Washington Bridge and south of 60th Street will not receive such a discount.

Public sector workers (teachers, police officers, firefighters, transit workers, etc.), those who live in the so-called CBD, utility companies, those who visit medical facilities in the area, and those who drive electric vehicles were hopeful get an exception to the rule. But neither the MTA nor the Transportation Mobility Review Board has made any exceptions for these groups.

When will the toll come into effect?

As for when the plan might take effect, the MTA says the goal is to begin collecting fares in late spring 2024. But, most likely, this process will take a little longer.

Now that the MTA has approved the initial plan, a 60-day response period begins, which includes four public hearings in late February and early March. Any possible changes to the plan (such as Mayor Eric Adams' request for additional exceptions for vehicles such as taxis) could be made before the “final” vote in April.

There were concerns that the toll could reach $23, but MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said MTA board members are “trying to keep it lower.” In his view, to keep the standard fare low, the transit agency will have to reduce the number of exceptions.

Public response

But even with guideline prices lowered, local leaders on both sides of the political aisle are already planning to go to court to stop congestion tolls from being charged to their constituents.

“This is fleecing New Jersey commuters to pay for all the financial hardships the MTA is facing. We are considering all options, including further legal action,” said New Jersey President Phil Murphy.

Previously, Governor Murphy sent a letter to the Transportation Mobility Council asking for a toll waiver for drivers in his state, arguing that they should not have to pay tolls on the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels or the George Washington Bridge in addition to the additional tolls into downtown Manhattan. . He argues that the fare should be counted towards payment to avoid paying twice.

New Jersey, in an attempt to block congestion pricing, has filed a lawsuit against the federal government. Staten Island said it also plans to sue the MTA over the plan.

“It was recently revealed that the $15 toll to enter Manhattan below 60th Street is nothing less than a complete rip-off of the residents of Staten Island. This could be one of the worst things to ever happen to Staten Island, said Borough President Vito Fossella. “We have said time and time again that all Staten Islanders, especially those living near the Expressway, will have to suffer even more air pollution and congestion, not to mention additional taxes on travel within their own city.” However, Staten Islanders will not see any return on investments in which they have no right to participate.”

The ultimate plan, but not for everyone

Any of the lawsuits filed against congestion pricing could halt the plan, depending on what judges rule. Many of these concern the plan's environmental impacts, although proponents argue it will help cut emissions.

Other than litigation, the only way to keep the plan afloat would be some kind of action by Congress or the federal government.

At the end of the summer, the New York City Council held hearings on this issue. Transit President Richard Davey spoke at the hearing, saying the proceeds from the plan would help make New York City's transit system a state-of-the-art system that would benefit everyone.

“That’s what congestion pricing is all about—investing in our transit system. So we are excited to take the next step in the approval process,” Davey said.

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