January 22, 2018

Precedent for Vancouver? NYC Congestion Charging

From the New York Times:

The plan … would create a congestion zone stretching from 60th Street south to the Battery, from the Hudson River to the East River. Trucks and commercial vehicles would be charged a fee of $25.34 to enter during peak traffic times. The plan would also impose a surcharge of $2 to $5 on trips in for-hire vehicles, including yellow taxis and Uber cars, in much of Manhattan. …

An effort by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008 would have charged a fee of $8 to drive into Midtown and Lower Manhattan, but it died in the State Assembly without coming to a vote.

Mr. Cuomo said that he would review the task force’s report and discuss options with state lawmakers over the next several months. He can reject any or all of the plan.

(Governor) Cuomo, a Democrat who is up for re-election this year, almost certainly faces a legislative battle over congestion pricing, especially with lawmakers from the boroughs outside Manhattan who fear that a congestion plan would hurt their constituents who drive because they have limited access to subways and buses. …

But there were sighs and complaints from drivers who live or work inside the congestion zone, and others who said the proposed fees were unfair. ..

Kendra Hems, president of the Trucking Association of New York, an industry group, said the congestion plan would harm hundreds of trucking companies and increase the cost of deliveries ….

Several state lawmakers also criticized the proposed fees. “I will fight any scheme which punishes Staten Islanders as they commute to work,” said State Senator Andrew Lanza, a Republican. “The Manhattan elitists don’t want outer borough residents clogging their streets.”

Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senator John Flanagan, the majority leader, said that while the chamber’s Republicans would consider the report, they were “always wary of imposing additional cost burdens on hardworking taxpayers and doing anything that makes it less affordable to live and work in New York.”

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Carl E. Heastie, the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, said they would be reviewing the report. “As the speaker has said, we need to develop a long term funding plan for our mass transit system,” Mr. Whyland said.

The task force recommended rolling out a congestion plan in three stages, beginning this year with investments in the public transit system in the boroughs outside Manhattan, followed in 2019 by a new surcharge on for-hire vehicles, including yellow taxis and Uber cars, which would be paid by passengers.

The congestion zone — the last phase of the plan — would not begin until 2020. Trucks would be charged first, and after any problems were smoothed out, the congestion zone fee would be extended to all vehicles, except for buses and for-hire vehicles. …

In total, the congestion plan would raise between $1 billion and $1.5 billion annually, according to estimates.

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