E-ZPass tolls in the MTA's proposed congestion pricing plan could...

E-ZPass tolls in the MTA's proposed congestion pricing plan could be as much as $12 overnights, and $23 during peak hours, according to a report. The cost would be higher for non-E-ZPass drivers. Credit: Charles Eckert

The MTA’s congestion pricing plan could charge most motorists as much as $34.50 more per day for driving into Manhattan — but also might send thousands of additional riders onto the Long Island Rail Road, according to project officials.

The information is included in the environmental assessment for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “Central Business District Tolling Program,” which will be released to the public Wednesday. The report — prepared by the MTA, the New York State Department of Transportation and the City DOT — will be reviewed by federal regulators.

The report studied the impacts of the proposed congestion pricing plan, which would create new tolls for driving within New York’s “Central Business District,” defined as below 60th Street in Manhattan. If approved, project officials expect to implement the new tolls by late 2023, or early 2024. 

Officials said a key goal is to reduce traffic in Manhattan and surrounding areas — thereby improving air quality, boosting the economy, and speeding emergency response times. The MTA is aiming to raise about $1 billion annually in new toll revenue, with 10% going toward LIRR infrastructure improvements.

On the low end, drivers using E-ZPass could pay as little as $5 for driving in the toll zone during overnight hours, and as much as $9 for driving between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. On the high end, the E-ZPass tolls could be as much as $12 overnights, and $23 during peak hours, according to the report.

For non-E-ZPass customers, the tolls could be as high as $34.50 during peak hours, according to the report. Toll amounts could be even higher when the city designates a "gridlock alert."

How much motorists will pay will depend on how many are required to pay. Project officials are considering various exemptions, including for buses, taxi drivers and other for-hire vehicles, as well as caps on how many tolls can be charged to business vehicles, including trucks. Also at issue is whether motorists already paying other tolls to enter Manhattan should have to pay again for entering the Central Business District.

Exemptions and/or tax rebates also will be given to emergency vehicles, vehicles transporting people with disabilities, and residents of the district who earn less than $60,000 annually.

Project officials will decide on toll rates following a series of virtual public hearings beginning on Aug. 25, and the recommendations of a six-member “Traffic Mobility Review Board,” which includes a Long Island representative.

The report estimated that the tolling plan could reduce the number of vehicles driving into the Central Business District each day by nearly 20%.

“Bottom line: This is good for the environment, good for public transit and good for New York and the region. We look forward to receiving public feedback in the weeks ahead,” MTA chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement.

The environmental assessment looked at other potential impacts from the tolling plan, including on Long Island. The new tolls could result in LIRR ridership increasing by up to 2%, according to the report. The LIRR carries about 180,000 riders a day — down from around 300,000 before COVID-19, according to MTA officials. The report also concluded that, with a shift from driving to transit, there would be "increased parking demand" at LIRR stations.

And although the report said the impact on traffic on Long Island would be negligible — increasing by less than 0.2% — it also predicted that the new tolls could encourage more drivers to use the Long Island Expressway, if they were given a credit for paying the toll at the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.

Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a planning and advocacy group, said he looked forward to reading the environmental assessment, and suggested ways for Nassau and Suffolk county residents to insulate themselves from the impacts of the new tolls. 

"I think the key is to try to go in as little as possible by car, try to take the train, and try to stay on Long Island," said. "It's really that simple. As far as how much more can we afford to pay, anything is too much. In this climate, post-coronavirus, any extra toll is too much."

The MTA’s congestion pricing plan could charge most motorists as much as $34.50 more per day for driving into Manhattan — but also might send thousands of additional riders onto the Long Island Rail Road, according to project officials.

The information is included in the environmental assessment for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “Central Business District Tolling Program,” which will be released to the public Wednesday. The report — prepared by the MTA, the New York State Department of Transportation and the City DOT — will be reviewed by federal regulators.

The report studied the impacts of the proposed congestion pricing plan, which would create new tolls for driving within New York’s “Central Business District,” defined as below 60th Street in Manhattan. If approved, project officials expect to implement the new tolls by late 2023, or early 2024. 

Officials said a key goal is to reduce traffic in Manhattan and surrounding areas — thereby improving air quality, boosting the economy, and speeding emergency response times. The MTA is aiming to raise about $1 billion annually in new toll revenue, with 10% going toward LIRR infrastructure improvements.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The MTA's environmental assessment of the “Central Business District Tolling Program” studied the impacts of proposed congestion pricing below 60th Street in Manhattan.
  • If approved, project officials expect to implement the new congestion pricing tolls by late 2023, or early 2024.
  • A key goal is to reduce traffic in Manhattan and surrounding areas — thereby improving air quality, boosting the economy, and speeding emergency response times. The MTA also aims to raise about $1 billion annually in new toll revenue.

On the low end, drivers using E-ZPass could pay as little as $5 for driving in the toll zone during overnight hours, and as much as $9 for driving between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. On the high end, the E-ZPass tolls could be as much as $12 overnights, and $23 during peak hours, according to the report.

For non-E-ZPass customers, the tolls could be as high as $34.50 during peak hours, according to the report. Toll amounts could be even higher when the city designates a "gridlock alert."

How much motorists will pay will depend on how many are required to pay. Project officials are considering various exemptions, including for buses, taxi drivers and other for-hire vehicles, as well as caps on how many tolls can be charged to business vehicles, including trucks. Also at issue is whether motorists already paying other tolls to enter Manhattan should have to pay again for entering the Central Business District.

Exemptions and/or tax rebates also will be given to emergency vehicles, vehicles transporting people with disabilities, and residents of the district who earn less than $60,000 annually.

Project officials will decide on toll rates following a series of virtual public hearings beginning on Aug. 25, and the recommendations of a six-member “Traffic Mobility Review Board,” which includes a Long Island representative.

The report estimated that the tolling plan could reduce the number of vehicles driving into the Central Business District each day by nearly 20%.

“Bottom line: This is good for the environment, good for public transit and good for New York and the region. We look forward to receiving public feedback in the weeks ahead,” MTA chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement.

The environmental assessment looked at other potential impacts from the tolling plan, including on Long Island. The new tolls could result in LIRR ridership increasing by up to 2%, according to the report. The LIRR carries about 180,000 riders a day — down from around 300,000 before COVID-19, according to MTA officials. The report also concluded that, with a shift from driving to transit, there would be "increased parking demand" at LIRR stations.

And although the report said the impact on traffic on Long Island would be negligible — increasing by less than 0.2% — it also predicted that the new tolls could encourage more drivers to use the Long Island Expressway, if they were given a credit for paying the toll at the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.

Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a planning and advocacy group, said he looked forward to reading the environmental assessment, and suggested ways for Nassau and Suffolk county residents to insulate themselves from the impacts of the new tolls. 

"I think the key is to try to go in as little as possible by car, try to take the train, and try to stay on Long Island," said. "It's really that simple. As far as how much more can we afford to pay, anything is too much. In this climate, post-coronavirus, any extra toll is too much."

Latest videos