Cuomo, de Blasio congestion pricing plan would generate revenue for MTA

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

A ten-point plan to fix the Metropolitan Transportation Authority includes new tolls on cars entering lower Manhattan as a way to generate much-needed funding for the city’s trains, buses and subways.

Announced Monday, the congestion pricing plan developed jointly by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will charge new tolls for drivers entering part to Manhattan.

Under the plan, electronic tolling systems will be installed at the perimeter of the Central Business District of Manhattan — anything south of 61st Street — and will account for tolls previously paid by drivers entering the city from designated crossings. The tolls will vary depending on the time of day, providing a discount for driving during off-peak hours.

Congestion pricing revenue will be placed in a “lockbox” to provide a funding source only for MTA capital spending, with priority given to the subway system, new signaling, new subway cars, track and car repair, accessibility, buses and bus system improvements as well as expanding transit services in the outer boroughs.

The governor and Mayor de Blasio hope the system will be in place by December 2020.

The Fix Our Transit coalition was at the state Capitol this week to lobby for congestion pricing, saying it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage more people to use mass transit.

Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-state Transportation Campaign, said the New York Metropolitan area is in a “transit crisis.”

Founded in 1993, Tri-State Transportation Campaign works to reduce car dependency in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

“The best solution for our transit crisis involves congestion pricing and that congestion pricing has to be the cornerstone of any funding plan that the legislation comes up with,” Sifuentes said.

President of New York’s League of Conservation Voters, Julie Tighe, said a congestion pricing plan is the group’s top priority for the coming budget because it would promote mass transit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources accounts for 33 percent of the total emissions from New York City, according to the congestion pricing advocates who were lobbying in Albany this week.

Kate Slevin, the senior vice president of the Regional Plan Association, believes that the MTA is the backbone of new economic growth in the New York metro region and its suburbs. She also believes that without further funding for the MTA the city will be at an economic standstill.

“The City and the State of New York agree with riders and public opinion polling: the time for congestion pricing has come,” Sifuentes said.