Jan. 19, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Cars making their way to Manhattan by way of the Queensboro Bridge won’t have to pay the price, so long as they stay above 60th Street, according to Governor Cuomo’s newly proposed congestion pricing plan.
The proposal, created by the state’s Fix NYC panel and released today, focuses on charging passenger cars and trucks entering Manhattan anywhere below 60th Street during certain hours and days. Cars would be charged $11.52 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, while commercial trucks would pay $25.34 for the same time frame.
But drivers crossing the East River through the Queensboro Bridge would only see a charge if they were to head south into the congestion zone, or the central business district, as the report calls it.
Cars crossing the remaining East River bridges into Manhattan would have no choice but to pay, except for those that immediately take the FDR Drive northbound after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
The measure is a change from prior proposals, like Move NY’s, that called for all free East River crossings to be tolled. Cuomo’s plan, instead, aims to move the focus onto Manhattan’s most traffic-congested areas, which have been deemed among the worst in the country. The midtown area, for example, saw an average vehicular speed of 4.7 mph in 2016, slightly faster than walking speed.
“The report accurately points out that the objective is not to raise tolls entering the borough of Manhattan, but more specifically those trips adding to the congestion in a defined central business district,” Cuomo said.
The report anticipates charging only commercial trucks first beginning some time in 2020, and then adding zone pricing to passenger cars. The panel recommends the pricing extension to all vehicles align with the re-opening of the L train tunnel connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan, scheduled for 2021.
A recommendation to charge taxis and for-hire vehicles a surcharge of $2 to $5 per ride was also put forth by the Fix NYC panel. Prior to congestion pricing going into effect, the state also suggests a series of steps to be taken, including identifying public transit improvements for the outer boroughs, better enforcing traffic laws within the CBD, and TLC regulation reform.
Cuomo said he will spend the next several months discussing the proposal and alternatives with lawmakers.