Overview Of NYC’s Congestion Pricing And What It Means For Drivers

Overview Of NYC’s Congestion Pricing And What It Means For Drivers

On Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released an environmental assessment that calls for the implementation of the long delayed congestion price plan by no later than the end of 2023.

 Congestion pricing is a term used to reference the use of electronic tolling to charge drivers for admittance into certain areas during peak commuting hours. Citing successful congestion pricing plans from other major cities including Stockholm, London, and Singapore, the MTA proposed a plan for NYC congestion pricing in 2019, but put the plan on the backburner when traffic in the established Central Business District (CBD) dropped to just 10% of normal levels during 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Traffic has since rebounded to over 90% of pre-pandemic levels according to MTA data and the congestion pricing plan has been brought back to the table for reassessment.  

With seven proposed versions of this tolling plan put forth, motorists traveling to the heart of Manhattan could pay an extra $9 to $23. Different versions of the plan include varying rates depending on a few factors– whether there is a cap on the number of times a car, truck, or van can be tolled in one day and what sort of discounts should be given to drivers already paying tolls at bridges and tunnels entering Manhattan. All versions of the proposed toll plan, excluded version “F” would use the time periods below to determine peak, off-peak and overnight hours.

  • Peak: Weekdays - 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Peak: Weekends - 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Off-peak: Weekdays - 8 to 10 p.m.
  • Overnight: Weekdays - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Overnight: Weekends - 10 p.m. to 10 a.m.

Under the first six proposed versions of the plan, higher rates would be charged to larger vehicles, with peak E-ZPass rates ranging from $12-$65 dollars for small trucks and $12-$82 dollars for large trucks. The only exceptions being made for motorists throughout these plans are for emergency vehicles and those carrying people with disabilities while tax credits will be made available for residents living within the CBD who earn less than $60,000 annual income. 

 This program is expected to generate $1 billion in revenue annually and will be placed in an MTA lockbox and bonded against to secure funds to improve public transit. Other expectations regarding the effects of this plan include improved air quality, reduced travel time, and less traffic. 

A six-person board is set to recommend its final toll rate structure for the Congestion Pricing Plan to the MTA’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) after its latest round of public outreach this August. 

For more information on the 7 proposed versions of the Congestion Pricing Plan, visit the MTA website at : https://new.mta.info/project/CBDTP

Within the EA, the MTA outlines seven tolling scenarios for consideration. None of the scenarios benefit the trucking industry.

Aside from the obvious concerns about another tolling program in New York, the Trucking Association of New York (TANY) immediately identified a number of significant issues with the program including but not limited to:

  • While passed under the guise of addressing congestion in New York City, the true intent of the program is to raise revenue for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). In fact, the legislation directs that the tolls collected MUST generate revenue to fund $15 billion dollars for the MTA capital program.
  • 100 percent of the toll revenue will be used to support mass transit. None of it will be invested in the city’s deteriorating roads and bridges.
  • The legislation specifically states that passenger vehicles shall only be charged a toll once per day despite the number of times they pass into or out of the CBD. The same exemption hasn’t been provided for commercial vehicles despite the fact that they have no choice but to enter the zone to make essential freight deliveries.
  • The program will be managed by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) which provides little transparency as toll rates are set and/or increased.

As outlined in the EA, possible toll rates for commercial vehicles range from $12 up to $82 per truck entering the congestion zone. However, the final toll rates won’t be determined until after the final EA is accepted by the FHWA. Once congestion pricing is given final approval by FHWA, a Traffic Mobility Review Board will meet to discuss toll rates as well as possible exemptions and toll credits.

Given the essential role the trucking industry plays in New York City, and the fact that trucks have no option but to enter the congestion zone, TANY will be advocating for a full exemption from tolls for commercial vehicles.

Click here to see more on this issue from Kendra Hems, president of the Trucking Association of New York, as reported by Transport Topics.