New York City's congestion pricing plan is set to set the toll at $15 for downtown Manhattan, in addition to the $17,63 that drivers will be required to pay at the Lincoln and Holland tunnels starting in 2024, reports North Jersey.
The next meeting date of the Traffic Mobility Review Board (the board tasked with making recommendations on tolls, incentives and credits) is not yet known. The council must vote on the recommendation, after which it will be sent to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for a vote.
“Governor Hochul has made it clear from the beginning: Congestion pricing is critical to New York's future by ensuring better transportation, cleaner air and less congestion on our streets. The Governor has repeatedly stated that $23 is too expensive for a toll in the central business district and is closely reviewing the recommendations of the Road Mobility Review Board,” said John Lindsay, a spokesman for the Hochul administration.
According to the report, trucks in the congestion zone will be charged either $24 or $36 depending on their size.
“Today’s leak exposes the rushed and opaque process that the MTA and the Mobility Review Board have undertaken to impose an unfair and ill-conceived congestion toll scheme on New Jersey commuters,” President Phil Murphy said in a statement. “Despite our interconnected and interdependent regional economy and transportation system, New York officials did not seriously consult with us from the beginning, but instead viewed New Jerseyans as a convenient way to fill the MTA's budget hole.”
In addition to congestion pricing and toll increases by the Port Authority, New Jersey drivers may see toll increases on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway next year.
In October, Murphy vetoed the agency's budget with a 3 percent increase just weeks before state Assembly elections, saying he needed more information. However, in the midst of the pandemic, the Turnpike Authority's governing board, which is chaired by Transportation Commissioner Murphy, who now serves as his chief of staff, approved an annual toll increase of 3% indefinitely, which was not communicated to the public.
How congestion pricing might work:
- Motorcycles will pay a $7,50 toll.
- Rental cars and taxis will charge customers $2,50 and $1,25 per ride, respectively.
- Low-income vehicle owners who qualify and are registered with the TBTA will receive a 50 percent discount on daily vehicle fares after the first 10 trips made by that vehicle in a calendar month.
- You will only be charged for entering the zone, but not for leaving it.
- Passenger cars, motorcycles and vehicles with commercial license plates will only be charged once per day.
- Under the project, passenger vehicles would receive a $5 daytime discount in the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, as well as in the Hugh Carey and Queens-Midtown tunnels.
- Night fares - from 21:00 to 05:00 - will be reduced by 75%.
- Some vehicles will be exempt from tolls, including vehicles carrying people with disabilities, as well as some emergency vehicles, buses and commuter vehicles.
The George Washington Bridge is one of the Manhattan crossings that would not be eligible for the credit under the plan. This worries Murphy because drivers will try to use the cheaper crossing, which could lead to a significant increase in traffic on the bridges and potentially defeat the purpose of the program to reduce congestion, since traffic will shift rather than decrease.
The program's goal, in addition to reducing congestion, is to raise $1 billion a year for the MTA's capital program and improve air quality.
The fight goes on
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, has led the fight against congestion pricing for years.
“As planned, New York is officially imposing its ridership-destroying congestion tax on Jersey families,” Gottheimer said in a statement. “If that wasn’t expensive enough, the Congestion Tax will also increase toxic, cancer-causing pollution in Jersey.”
Portals have already begun to be installed along the perimeter of the toll zone, which is below 60th Street but does not include the highways on the outskirts of Manhattan, which will house license plate scanners or E-ZPass transponders to collect tolls from cars.
To try to stop congestion pricing, two lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey. One was filed by the Murphy administration, challenging the Federal Highway Administration's decision not to conduct a more thorough environmental review. Another was filed by Bergen County residents, who claim the program will lead to more health problems and want the MTA to create a fund to address the consequences. None of the lawsuits have so far hampered progress on the program, which MTA officials say they plan to launch in the spring.