NYC's $15 Congestion Toll Is a US First

Most drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street will have to pay beginning in June
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 28, 2024 10:15 AM CDT
NYC's $15 Congestion Toll Is a US First
Commuters wait to drive through the Holland Tunnel into New York City during morning rush hour traffic in Jersey City, NJ, on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

New York is on track to become the first US city with congestion tolls on drivers entering its central business district after transit officials approved a $15 fee for most motorists headed into part of Manhattan. Members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Wednesday voted to greenlight the congestion pricing plan, expected to go into effect in June, per the AP. The board approved only minor changes to a plan presented to the public months ago and brushed off requests for exceptions by dozens of groups of commuters. The vote authorizes a $15 toll on most commuter passenger vehicles that drive into Manhattan south of 60th Street during daytime hours. Tolls are higher for larger vehicles, and lower for late-night entries into the city, as well as for motorcycles.

Supporters of the new tolls say they'll push more people to use public transport, cut congestion to speed up public buses and emergency vehicles, reduce pollution, and raise money needed to improve the subway system. The state Legislature approved the tolls in 2019, mandating that the program should raise $1 billion per year to fund public subway and bus systems for the city's 4 million daily riders. It also established the boundaries of the zone, which covers the busiest part of the city, and scaled back early proposals to include the area up to 86th Street. The pandemic and lack of federal regulation stalled the project. The vote Wednesday followed two months of public comment.

Tolls will vary based on the time of day and the size of the vehicle, ranging from $1.75 for motorcycles crossing overnight to $36 for sightseeing buses and trucks with trailers during the day. The overnight period runs from 9pm to 5am on weekdays, and from 9pm to 9am on weekends. Visitors without E-ZPasses—a device that collects toll information remotely—will pay more. And as on bridges, license plate readers are expected to identify other drivers, so that they can be billed by mail. Only limited exemptions were granted. Emergency vehicles, specialized city vehicles, buses with regular public routes or city school contracts, and vehicles carrying disabled people and certain low-income commuters get a pass. Low-income drivers are eligible for discounts and tax credits. (More New York City stories.)

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