NYC congestion pricing was supposed to be the future

On Wednesday, new York Governor Kathy Hochul shocked the state and the country when she announced she would indefinitely shelve New York City’s long-developed congestion pricing plan. Policy, in construction since 2007 and starting in just three weeks, is designed to ease car traffic, limit road deaths and send a billion dollars in annual funding to the city’s transportation system by collecting Drivers charge up to $15 a day to enter the busiest areas of Manhattan , with prices highest during “rush hours.” (Truck drivers and some bus drivers can already pay more than $36 per day.) At heart, the idea is simple, if controversial: Make people pay for the roads they use.

But congestion charging could also become one of America’s most ambitious climate projects ever. It aims to lure people out of their gas-guzzling cars, which are the sole cause about 22 percent U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and get on their subways, buses, bikes, and feet. Policy makers, Researchersand environmental enthusiasts around the world have concluded that, even as the transition to tram will happen at lightning speed, avoiding the worst of climate change will require fewer cars overall.

Now the movement has suffered a serious setback in a country where decades of car-centric planning decisions have left many people only able to imagine getting around in one very specific way. . Just a few years ago, cities from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Chicago began studying what the valuation curve would look like. “Cities are watching to see what happens in New York,” said Sarah Kaufman, who directs NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation. “Now they can call it a ‘failure’ because it wasn’t successful.”

On Wednesday, Hochul said her return was related to concerns about the city’s post-pandemic recovery. Congestion charging plan face lawsuits from New Jersey, where passengers say they will face unfair financial burdens. Camera and portsacquired and positioned to charge drivers entering the area, was installed in Manhattan at a cost of approximately $500 million.

Kaufman, who said she was “taken aback” by Gov. Hochul’s sudden announcement, said she’s not sure where the policy will go from here. “If we can’t move bravely and potentially less commonly in a city with an accessible public transportation system, then I wonder where this could happen,” she said.

Other global cities have had success with congestion plans. London program, implemented in 2003, remains controversial among residents, but the government reports that it has cut traffic in the target area by one-third. One 2020 research shows the program has reduced pollutants, although the exemption for diesel buses has reduced its emissions impact. Stockholm’s program, launched in 2006, has increased ridership on the city’s public transport, reduced the total number of miles traveled by local residents by car, and reduce emissions from 10 to 14%.

But in New York, the program’s future remains unclear, and local politicians are now trying to figure out how to fill the transit budget hole left by the last-minute integration of the fee program. The city’s transportation system is large and widespread: Five million people ride Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses and subways, nearly twice the number of people who fly each day in the United States.

In New York, drivers entering the area below Manhattan’s 60th Street will be charged a top rate of $15, but will only be charged once per day. They should have paid $3.75 for off-peak hours. Taxi and ride-hailing trips within the area will incur additional charges. After years of debate and public debate, the state has offered some exemptions to the congestion charge: some vehicles carrying people with disabilities will not be charged, lower-income residents in the area will receive tax credits for their tolls; and low-income drivers will qualify for a 50% discount.


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