|The TCMC plan institutes a congestion charge zone south of 60th Street in Manhattan. Click to enlarge.|
The independent New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission (TCMC) has recommended an alternative congestion pricing plan that, according to its research, will reduce traffic levels in all five boroughs while raising nearly half a billion dollars per year in net revenue for transit improvements and service expansion across the city and the region.
New York’s Governor and State Legislature created the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission in 2007 and charged it with developing a solution to the severe traffic congestion problem in New York City’s central business district (CBD). The legislation establishing the Commission required it to study and evaluate different approaches to reducing congestion in the CBD, including the congestion pricing plan forwarded by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in April, 2007 (earlier post), and to recommend a comprehensive traffic congestion mitigation plan to the City and the State by January 31, 2008.
The Commission was required to set forth an implementation plan that achieves at least a 6.3% reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Manhattan south of 86th Street—the estimated level of VMT reduction of the Mayor’s plan.
Under the original Bloomberg plan, passenger vehicles entering or leaving Manhattan below 86th Street during the business day (weekdays 6 am to 6 pm)—with the exception of the FDR Drive, the West Side Highway, and West Street—would pay an $8 daily fee. Trucks would pay $21. Autos that drive only within the Congestion Zone would pay half price. The charge would apply to all vehicles, except emergency vehicles, those with handicapped license plates, taxis, and for-hire vehicles (radio cars.
The TCMC plan pushes the northern boundary of the congestion zone south to 60th Street. Cars would be charged an $8 fee for inbound trips only on weekdays between 6am and 6pm. Trucks would pay $21, except for low-emission trucks, which would pay $7.
Drivers would pay once upon entering the charging zone and would be able to make additional trips in and out of the zone at no additional cost. For E-ZPass users, the value of all tolls paid on MTA or Port Authority bridges and tunnels would be deducted from the fee up to $8.
The TCMC plan would use an electronic fee collection system based on E-ZPass and license plate cameras. Non-E-ZPass users would be subject to a $1 surcharge to encourage E-ZPass use and to cover the additional cost of processing license plate image transactions. In addition, the Commission’s plan includes a package of parking and taxi policies designed to further discourage driving within the zone, including a $1 surcharge on taxi, black car, and car service trips that start and/or end within the zone during congestion pricing hours, increased on-street parking meter rates within the zone, and elimination of the resident parking tax exemption for off-street parking garages and lots within the zone.
The TCMC calculated that its plan will reduce VMT in the area of Manhattan south of 86th Street by 6.8 percent, exceeding the requirement in the legislation establishing the Commission. The plan will also reduce traffic across the City and region.
The plan, according to TCMC, will also generate $491 million a year in net revenues for transit investment. The plan’s design will result in significantly lower capital and operating costs than the Mayor’s plan.
The plan—which now goes to the legislature for consideration—met with the approval of The Campaign for New York’s Future—a broad citywide coalition comprising more than 150 civic, labor, community, environmental, public health and business organizations.
After months of deliberation and more than 50 hours of public hearings, the Commission has proposed a traffic relief plan that will also deliver mass transit expansion and improvements across the New York City region. This is exactly what voters have asked for in polls and public hearings, and it’s what we need to improve our quality of life today and ensure New York remains a great place to live as we add one million more residents in the coming years.”— Michael O’Loughlin, Director of the Campaign for New York’s Future
Today’s vote for congestion pricing is a historic moment: the launch of a real solution to New York’s traffic and air-quality crises. The commission has designed a congestion pricing system that delivers cleaner air on day one and guarantees transit expansion in all five boroughs and the suburbs. Now the legislature must act. We may never again have a chance to address our congestion and pollution problems so effectively.—Andy Darrell, Regional Director of Environmental Defense