Up to : New Boost for Manhattan Tolls

Up to $23: New Boost for Manhattan Tolls

Manhattan’s congestion problem has been around for decades. The MTA report shows that the situation has worsened over the past decade. Average speed in Manhattan’s central business district dropped 22% between 2010 and 2019, to the equivalent of about seven miles per hour. Every year, drivers waste 102 hours in traffic jams.

Regardless of the level, imposing a toll would reduce traffic in inner Manhattan by 15 to 20 percent and reduce air pollution, according to the report. The MTA, which organizes public transportation in New York City and much of the eponymous state, can levy the fee between $1 billion and $1.5 billion a year. Money must flow to the expansion of “public transport”. The toll “is good for the environment, good for public transportation and good for New York and the whole region,” said MTA chief Janno Lieber.

Up to $23 per day

As far as the toll price is concerned, there are several scenarios in the report. The authors do not express a preference for a specific model. The maximum price would be $23 for cars, trucks, taxis and rentals, payable once a day. Credits are provided to drivers entering Manhattan via one of seven bridges and tunnels that are already subject to tolls. The authors give nine dollars as the lowest price. In this scenario, however, there is no limit to how often the fee is charged per day and there should be no credits.

Traffic jam on the access road to New York

APA/AFP/Johannes Eisele A tollbooth aims to free inner Manhattan – seen here in the distance – from permanent traffic jams

European cities such as London, Oslo and Stockholm are already using congestion charging models. With the presentation of the report, the debate that has been going on for years in New York began to move. In 2019, New York state lawmakers paved the way for a “congestion tax” on Manhattan. However, the planned introduction in late 2021 was delayed because the government put the project on a back burner during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), responsible for approving the toll at the federal level, has already approved the MTA report. The federal authority will evaluate public statements received by the beginning of September. The FHWA must then make its decision in January. According to the New York MTA, once the authority gives the go-ahead, it will take about ten months to prepare the electronic toll collection system.

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Exception call

A tug of war is already taking place behind the scenes on how the toll will be structured. New York Mayor Eric Adams supports the tax in principle but is pushing for generous exceptions, especially for low-income city residents. New Yorkers shouldn’t be burdened too much for using their own streets, the Democratic politician said. Numerous interest groups are also demanding exceptions, for example for taxis, motorcycles and electric vehicles.

Drivers commuting from New Jersey to Manhattan across the George Washington Bridge, for example, are already being asked to pay. For this reason, New Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy is insisting on credits for vehicle owners in his state if the Manhattan toll becomes a reality. MTA chief Lieber has warned against overly generous exemptions — the more people exempt from the fee, the heavier the burden on those who would have to pay, he argues.