Would you like the city to do something to combat the traffic jams that have returned to the city after the pandemic? This desire can be satisfied, but it can be costly for drivers. NBC New York.
On the morning of August 10, an environmental assessment of the Manhattan congestion charge proposal was finally released. And the New York City Transportation Administration (MTA) said the plan will have a significant positive impact on the city from an economic, environmental and transportation standpoint.
Under the plan, motorists entering Manhattan below 60th Street will be charged electronically. The only exceptions are the West Side Highway and Roosevelt Drive. The proceeds, estimated at $1 billion a year, will be used to fund the overhaul of the MTA's subway and bus systems.
MTA proposes seven different Manhattan congestion toll scenarios
Fares for entering the Central Business District below 60th Street during the peak period range from $9 to $23. In almost all plan configurations, the peak time is defined from 6:00 to 20:00 on weekdays and from 10:00 to 22:00 on weekends.
The environmental assessment tested seven different possible congestion charge scenarios for Manhattan. The introduction of such a fee will achieve the main goal - to reduce traffic, which is always too dense in this area. It will also reduce congestion in the area, reduce travel times for motorists, as well as increase economic productivity and reduce fuel consumption, the MTA said.
The assessment showed that air pollution levels would decrease by about 11% in Midtown and lower Manhattan. And also almost 9% in Upper Manhattan. There were benefits for other areas, but they turned out to be much lower. For example, in New Jersey's Hudson County, pollution levels will drop by only 3%.
“In summary, it's good for the environment, good for public transit, and good for New York and the region. We look forward to receiving public feedback in the coming weeks,” the AIT said.
At the same time, the evaluation showed that for some, this innovation may have adverse consequences. For example, for low-income drivers who have no alternatives for commuting. Or for those who drive taxis and other rental vehicles. In these cases, the MTA may create a range of mitigating measures or exemptions to help offset the cost burden.
Manhattan congestion fees are not expected to be introduced until late 2023 at the earliest. The New York State Legislature approved a blueprint for this reform back in 2019. And it was originally supposed to be put into operation in 2021. But the pandemic and the lack of guidance from the federal authorities regarding the type of environmental review required led to the suspension of the project.
The MTA will hold a series of hearings before the end of the month to gather public feedback on the proposed changes. They will also be accepted as comments online, by email and by phone starting August 10th.
A series of six public hearings will be held at the end of August at the following dates and times:
- Thursday, August 25, from 17:00 to 20:00.
- Saturday, August 27, from 10:00 to 13:00.
- Sunday, August 28, from 13:00 to 16:00.
- Monday, August 29, from 13:00 to 16:00.
- Tuesday, August 30, from 17:00 to 20:00.
- Wednesday, August 31, from 10:00 to 13:00.
After meetings have been held and all public opinion has been gathered, the Federal Highway Administration must give final approval to the environmental plan before the project is implemented.