Central Business District Tolling Program (congestion pricing)

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Murray Hill Neighborhood Association's Congestion Pricing Survey results are posted on the MHNA website. MHNA President Diane Bartow shared the survey results with New York Assembly Members Richard Gottfried, Harvey Epstein and Dan Quart, State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, New York City Council Members Carlina Rivera and Keith Powers, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Learn more about the proposed tolling at the MTA’s Central Business District Tolling Program website new.mta.info/project/CBDTP. And look for future hearings for our district, the Central Business District (CBD). You can still submit comments at mta-nyc.custhelp.com/app/cbd_tolling. Email CBDTP@mtabt.org, Mail CBD Tolling Program, 2 Broadway, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10004, Phone 646-252-7440. 

Public hearing on September 23, 2021 for people in the congestion pricing district

On Thursday September 23, 2021 there was a congestion pricing hearing for the proposed tolling district: Manhattan south of (and including 60th ) Street. The hearing ran from 6 - 9:30pm with an MTA presentation for the first half hour and three hours of public comments. The first half hour was a presentation by the MTA (See video on new.mta.info/project/CBDTP.) This is what we know about the program at this stage:

New York State legislation set up this program in the MTA Reform and Traffic Mobility Act of 2019. Gotham Gazette analysis gothamgazette.com/opinion/8448-the-devilish-details-of-albany-s-mta-budget-package

Excerpts from MTA’s recorded presentation on the MTA CBDTP website are listed below.

How the program is structured

Project Sponsors are MTA Bridges and Tunnels (legal name is Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority or TBTA) and NYC Department of Transportation (DOT). 

The Federal Lead Agency is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). They will use the Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidelines will be used for the Environmental Assessment.

A Traffic Mobility Review Board (TMRB) will recommend toll rates to the MTA’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), which has final say on rates.

Goals of the tolling program

The proposal establishes a Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP) to create a recurring funding source for MTA. MTA has asked for $15 billion per year to fund capital projects for the MTA Capital Program. The region covered by this plan is NY, NJ, CT, and the revenue stream will be for investment in subways, buses and rail. 

Other goals for the program: reduce congestion in Manhattan south of 60th Street, reduce air pollution. Environmental justice goals will also be considered.

Environmental assessment

The project is currently in the Environmental Assessment stage. The EA has two alternatives: No Action, or CBD Tolling Program (generating a revenue stream for MTA investment in subways, buses and rail). If the MTA proceeds with the program, the implementation will be by 2023.

Proposed Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP)

The Central Business District (CBD) is defined as Manhattan south of and including 60th Street.

Tolls will be charged only on entering the CBD. Passenger vehicles will be charged once per day.

The tolling program will exclude the FDR Drive, the West Side Highway (Route 9A), the Battery Park underpass, and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (formerly the Brooklyn/Battery Tunnel) connecting to West St. If you stay on one of these roadways. Vehicles that do not go into the CBD will not be subject to a toll. (NOTE: It appears that streets serving as entrances to bridges and tunnels from the FDR Drive and West Side Highway would take you into the CBD. This would have to be clarified.)

There would be exemptions for qualifying vehicles transporting persons with disabilities and qualifying authorized emergency vehicles.
CBD residents with gross adjusted incomes below $60,000 would be eligible for a tax credit (they would first have to pay the tolls).

Recommendations for tolling structure must take into consideration ability to generate revenue required, impact on traffic patterns and volumes, public safety, air quality, etc. 

Toll revenue must be sufficient to raise $15 billion for the MTA. This means that any exemptions must be balanced by increased tolls or other measures to raise revenue.

Tolls will be paid by EZPass. 

The final toll numbers are not definite, but the numbers that were mentioned in the MTA’s presentation are $9 - $23 for passenger vehicles with EZpass, $14 - 35 for vehicles without EZpass (tolling by mail), trucks would have different price ranges, and off peak & night rates may be lower.