Cars entering the most traffic-clogged area of Manhattan could be charged $11.52 under recommendations to be announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s congestion pricing panel, amNewYork has learned.
The highly anticipated proposal, to be released Friday by the governor’s Fix NYC panel, aims to reduce congestion in Manhattan’s central business district while also providing a new, dedicated revenue stream for the beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The recommended fee could either be set up to charge private vehicles a one-way fee of $11.52, or a two-way fee of $5.76 — though the exact dollar amount is considered one “option” and not a specific recommendation, according to a source familiar with the proposal. The charges are structured to match the tolls imposed on vehicles entering the city through its tunnels, the source said.
Drivers who enter Manhattan via a tunnel would not have to pay twice, the source said. The charges could vary depending on the time of day.
Different fees would be applied to trucks, taxis and for-hire vehicles, the source said. Recommendations include charging trucks a one-way fee of as much as $25.34 and taxis and for-hire vehicles a surcharge between $2 and $5 per ride, according to the source.
Those fees for private vehicles would be implemented at 60th Street, while taxis and for-hire vehicles could see surcharges take effect higher in Manhattan, at 96th Street.
The panel’s proposal could raise between $1 billion and $1.5 billion annually for mass transit, the source said.
The recommendations from the panel do not include tolling the East River bridges or reducing outer-borough tolls, according to the source.
Instituting the fees would require the approval of state legislature, which has already shot down two other congestion pricing proposals dating to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.
Even then, it would take at least two years to implement the tolls, with time needed for planning, design and construction of the necessary infrastructure, the source said.
Ultimately, the proposal would require the installation of similar technology that is currently used for the MTA’s cashless tolling system including the erection of gantries and scanners.
The tolls would be instituted in phases, the source said, with trucks, taxis and for-hire vehicles first getting charged and private vehicles following at some point after that.
In the time it will take to install the necessary infrastructure to support the tolls, the panel hopes that the MTA’s Subway Action Plan will bring some stability to a subway system that has experienced a soaring number of delays in recent years.
Cuomo has heralded congestion pricing as “an idea whose time has come.” Mayor Bill de Blasio, a steadfast opponent to the prospect, has pitched a millionaire’s tax to raise funds for the subways. That plan would also need approval from the state legislature.
Crippling congestion in New York City is costing the metropolitan area $20 billion a year, according to a report issued Wednesday from the Partnership of New York City, which has representation on Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel.
While de Blasio has said he’d be open to reviewing any plan from the panel, he has maintained in recent weeks that congestion pricing is a “regressive tax” that unfairly burdens lower-income, outer-borough car owners.
Census data suggests otherwise. The majority of car owners in each borough tended to have higher household incomes than those of car-free households, according to census data crunched by the non-profit Tri-State Transportation Campaign last summer.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Long Island) declined to comment on the panel’s proposal Thursday, saying through a spokesman he wanted to review the full report first. But two weeks ago when Cuomo floated the concept in his State of the State address, Flanagan, asked if he could support congestion pricing, said: “Not from what I’ve listened to.”
Further, Flanagan said he’d rely on the opinions of the only two Republican senators from the five boroughs, Sens. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island). And on Wednesday, Lanza said it was “insulting and ridiculous” to charge drivers coming into Manhattan to work.
“If we’re going to address the traffic and do a congestion pricing scheme, it’s got to be fair and not punish the people from the outer boroughs,” Lanza told reporters.
— With Yancey Roy