Congestion Pricing Talking Points

On the need for Congestion Pricing:

  • As the regional population and commerce have grown, so has traffic and gridlock – which causes higher greenhouse gas emissions and worse air pollution throughout the Tri-State Area.
  • In 2020 and 2021, New York City ranked worst among American cities with the most traffic congestion in the country.
  • State and City officials, stakeholders, and advocacy groups have conducted numerous studies over the past 45 years to determine the most effective way to address congestion, particularly in the most congested area, the Manhattan Central Business District (CBD). These studies overwhelmingly pointed to congestion pricing as the most effective tool.
  • Congestion pricing is essential to meet the goals of the MTA’s Capital Plan. The single biggest piece of capital plan funding ‒ $15 billion ‒ is expected to come from congestion pricing. This investment will mean more reliable transit service on buses, subways and commuter rails.
  • Congestion pricing means fewer cars on the road and less air pollution.
  • If congestion pricing is NOT approved, the MTA will be in a more dire financial situation. This will put further pressure on the operating budget, which would likely lead to higher fares.

On the purpose of the Environmental Assessment:

  • Part of the purpose of the Environmental Assessment is to identify congestion pricing impacts on specific neighborhoods and populations of people.
  • It will be up to the Traffic Mobility Review Board to recommend, and the MTA and the Governor to ultimately approve, a CBD toll program that mitigates unintended consequences.

Key takeaways from the Environmental Assessment:

  • The Environmental Assessment lists seven potential tolling scenarios to investigate potential impacts.
  • Almost all tolling scenarios achieve the necessary funding goals.
  • Tolling the Manhattan CBD will lead to reduced traffic entering the area, with a net benefit in congestion reduction for the region.
  • Discounts, crossing credits, and exemptions will lead to higher toll rates.
  • Daily truck traffic in Manhattan’s core would decline anywhere from 21% to 81%, meaning thousands of trucks will no longer drive through Manhattan. The diversion of these trucks has been accounted for through truck reduction programs outlined in the environmental assessment.
  • If more exemptions are allowed, higher toll rates will still lead to a greater degree of traffic reduction in the Manhattan CBD, BUT will also lead to increased traffic diversions, including increases along the Cross Bronx Expressway and Staten Island Expressway.
  • Depending on the scenario, there may be potential adverse impacts along the Staten Island Expressway, Cross Bronx Expressway, and for certain low-income drivers and taxis/FHVs. The MTA, the State, and the City will need to mitigate these impacts before congestion pricing is implemented.

On the effect in Manhattan’s Central Business District:

  • All tolling scenarios in the Environmental Assessment reduce the number of vehicles into the Manhattan Central Business District (CBD), accomplishing the intended outcome of congestion pricing.
  • All tolling scenarios in the Environmental Assessment reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the Manhattan Central Business District
  • Under the proposed scenarios, the Manhattan Central Business District will see a 15.4-19.9% reduction in vehicles entering.

On MTA’s deployment of electric buses to help address adverse potential impacts along Cross Bronx:

  • Under some of the scenarios, the MTA’s current transition towards electrifying its fleet through deploying zero-emission buses will reduce pollutant emissions in neighborhoods traditionally underserved and those most affected by poor air quality and climate change.
  • The MTA has developed a new Environmental Justice Scoring framework that will help actively conceptualize and incorporate the electrification deployment phasing process.
  • Later this year, when electric buses are received in the MTA’s next major procurement of battery electric buses, the MTA will prioritize the Kingsbridge Depot and Gun Hill Depot, both located in and serving primarily environmental justice communities in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx.

On the potential adverse effects on low-income drivers:

  • The cost of the new CBD toll is projected to affect a very small portion of low-income drivers and the vast majority of low-income New Yorkers rely on public transit, which will be funded by congestion pricing.
  • The program will include a tax credit for CBD tolls paid by residents of the Manhattan CBD who make less than $60,000 annually.