To reduce traffic and air pollution in Lower Manhattan and Midtown, the MTA will soon introduce a new toll for drivers below 60th Street, called the Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program or congestion pricing. Revenue from this new toll will be used by the MTA to fund improvements to the reliability, accessibility, and sustainability of our public transit system. This first-in-the-nation congestion pricing program in the most transit-accessible city in the country is a much-needed effort to cut gridlock and reduce people’s reliance on private cars, but the success of congestion pricing will depend on ensuring that the details of program design and implementation, as well as coordinated and proactive transit investments from the City and State, are thoughtfully deployed.
Here’s what you need to know
- What’s happening right now?
- The Transit Mobility Review Board, a group of five members and one chair, are currently holding meetings to consider several congestion pricing scenarios. The scenarios look at base toll price options, different prices based on vehicle type, nighttime discounts, and credits for if drivers are entering the CBD from a tolled tunnel, while balancing the need for the program to fund $15 billion in transit investments. The group most recently met on October 2, 2023 and the presentation is available here.
- March 2019: Congestion pricing is approved with the state budget
- September 2021: MTA begins public hearings
- July 2022: Transit Mobility Review Board (TMRB) members are approved by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA). The TMRB is the body that will recommend toll rates to the TBTA.
- May 2023: US Dept of Transportation approves the plan
- June 2023: Federal Highway Administration issues final needed approval
- July 2023: The TMRB meets for the first time
- July 2023: Installation of toll-gantries at the borders of the Central Business District begins
- October 2, 2023: most recent TMRB meeting
- November 20, 2023: the TMRB issued recommendations for toll prices, discounts, and credits. Access the full report here.
- … between now and April 2024:
- The TBTA will hold a public hearing and issue a final decision on tolls
- Toll-gantry installation will be completed
- April 2024: Expected date for congestion tolling to begin
- How to get involved
- There will be a public hearing after the TMRB issues their recommendations – stay tuned for more information!
- Sign up to receive congestion pricing project updates and be informed of public comment opportunities from the MTA here.
In Summer 2022, Borough President Levine announced a number of priorities to ensure that the tolling program was successful. These included:
Implement Two-way Tolling and Make Tolls Variable
Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to tolling, capturing both sides of the trip could allow for flexibility to appropriately toll different types and sizes of vehicles, as well as encourage travel during off-peak hours.
Offer Immediate Rebates to Those who are Eligible
In the current plan, individuals who earn under $60,000 will receive a tax credit at the end of the year. Those who qualify should instead receive an immediate rebate so that families who earn the least aren’t forced to wait to get their money back.
DOT Must Produce a 2023 Streets Master Plan Focused on Readying our Streetscapes for Congestion Pricing
Successful implementation of congestion pricing will require a comprehensive transit infrastructure plan. DOT must produce a 2023 streets plan focused on bus, bike, and pedestrian improvements in and around the congestion zone, with particular focus on improvements that will better support and encourage public transit and safety and ensure the success of the congestion pricing program.
Implement All-door Boarding on Buses Citywide
All-door boarding, which generally reduces the time buses spend at stops by 20%, must be in place prior to congestion pricing to ensure we have the best bus system possible to carry additional riders.
Raise the Pedal-assist Citi Bike Cap
DOT should raise the cap (20%) on the number of pedal-assist bikes allowed to comprise the Citi Bike system. E-bikes are an increasingly popular and important transit mode for New Yorkers, particularly those who travel long distances to and from uptown as well as Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens.
Reform E-Commerce and Deliveries
E-commerce delivery trucks too often illegally park in bus, bike, and travel lanes, and frequently use sidewalk space to sort and distribute packages. This contributes greatly to congestion, and we must move more deliveries to smaller vehicles, further expanding loading zones, and strengthen enforcement against the business practices of e-commerce companies that encourage parking and unloading in the public right-of-way. Learn more about how to tackle the congestion caused by e-commerce deliveries.
Appoint a Manhattanite to the Traffic Mobility Review Board (done!)
Though Manhattanites will be greatly impacted by congestion pricing, there is no requirement for there to be a resident from the area in which this program will be implemented. This is a highly complex program that must be designed with voices from Manhattan at the table.