Service of Congestion Pricing: Positive or Negative Impact on NY Metro Area?

April 4th, 2019

Categories: Automobiles, Congestion Pricing, Traffic

Michael Riedel declared on the radio yesterday morning that he doesn’t care about the impending congestion pricing initiative slated for high traffic zones in Manhattan because he won’t be impacted by it as his colleagues might. He lives in the Village and often rides his bicycle to work. He’s half the WOR Radio 710 morning team. Len Berman, the other half, drives in from Long Island and the other key players are news director Joe Bartlett and executive producer Natalie Batos-Vacca. They hail from New Jersey. The latter three are currently less enthusiastic.

The system that state legislators approved in concept on Monday might start as early as the end of 2020. A network of license plate readers would bill vehicles south of Central Park. The money would supplement the tolls on seven bridges and tunnels around the city that charge between $9.50 and $15.

According to an Associated Press [AP] article that appeared in USA Today, some 717,000 vehicles daily enter the high traffic zone in question. With a toll of say $11.52, [which is being considered] proponents estimate a 13 percent reduction in traffic and $1.1 billion/year in revenues. After expenses, the money would go to trains and buses. Pollution should also be less.

The scheme has been in place in London [since 2003], Stockholm [since 2007] and Singapore [since the 1070s]. At first the effect was positively felt in London but congestion has increased lately because of businesses like Uber that were exempt from the toll. That changes on April 8.

The AP asked, as do I, if there is sufficient alternate transportation for those who give up their cars. What happens to taxis, delivery trucks, and ride-hail cars that might go in and out of the zone multiple times a day? Will excessive exemptions weaken the effect of the initiative? One pundit predicted that people “aren’t going to abandon their cars to get into the subway.”

“Asked about concerns over whether such a beleaguered transit system could even handle more riders if people decided not to drive into Manhattan, [Kate] Slevin pointed out that transit officials have almost two years to take steps that will help, like redoing bus routes.” Slevin is with an advocacy organization that supports the congestion toll.

How come we hear nothing about measures taken to belt-tighten at the MTA? Anyone review the budget for pork and ways for efficiency to lower the cost of doing business? The organization might find more than enough money for repairs were these steps taken.

Is Riedel right: That because he doesn’t live or work in the high traffic zone congestion pricing won’t impact him in any way? Do you think New York City’s limping transportation system can withstand an increased passenger load until the money kicks in to improve things? Aren’t the exorbitant fees in high traffic zones that are already added to the cost of yellow taxi rides—onerous for citizens and a death knell for the taxi owners–enough? Might the new tolls impact the value of residential real estate in the boroughs and NY Metro area?

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10 Responses to “Service of Congestion Pricing: Positive or Negative Impact on NY Metro Area?”

  1. Anonymous Said:

    Interesting that the fee only applies to vehicles entering the area–not those that stay and drive only within the congested area. Sounds like it will most negatively impact those who can’t afford the expensive homes south of the park but need to travel there to get to work or school. Do you know if the tolls will be 24 hours a day? Or only during the weekdays during rush hour? I’d be hesitant to look to London for inspiration on this topic. The last time I checked, their subway fares are based on zones. New York’s fares are not. So someone here who lives in another borough but works in midtown pays the same fare as someone who lives in the Village and commutes to midtown. We’re not charging more money to those who have less. I’m a big fan of public transportation but I don’t assume that my decisions are best for everyone.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    From what I gather there are a lot of decisions still to be made. The only thing that was approved on Monday was that there will be a toll but not even how much, or who will be exempt, or how, exactly, it will work. Even bus traffic patterns that will need to be switched haven’t been addressed. The woman quoted in the article who is in favor of the tolls said that the committee has two years to figure it out.

    Those who must carry heavy sample cases and tools are in trouble. They can’t take a bus or subway and the price of cabs make them out of the question. I heard that a NJ mayor–I THINK of Jersey City– wants to place tolls on New York drivers coming to his city. I don’t blame him.

    I think that the tolls are dormant on weekends. I didn’t read what weekday hours are affected. People who live just above the cutoff are concerned that their garages and street parking spots will be inundated by those avoiding the toll.

    I dislike myself for writing this but I have a sad feeling that the middle class and poor are not being considered. They surely weren’t when the taxi fees were slapped on meters.

  3. ASK Said:

    I am a great fan of the subway system; I’ll keep using the trains until my knees no longer bend. Buses not so much. I think your suggestion of casting a sharp eye over the MTA’s books to look for pork is a great idea, especially since I read in the NYTimes a few years ago that the MTA employs over 1000 lawyers. Really? What for? Are there that many law suits pending?

    There seems to be no rhyme or reason to traffic control in NY. I can’t tell you how many times I have actually seen cyclists in the bicycle lanes. Where are they? And why have the taxi drivers had to add yet another surcharge, fee, tax, or whatever you want to call it, to the actual fare on the meter? Taxi drivers ought to be encouraged, not penalized. Also, IMO, trucks ought to be making deliveries in non-peak hours. Does any government traffic expert or official have a comprehensive plan to deal with the traffic muddle? And, even if they do, the politics of the situation seem to preclude any meaningful efforts at a solution.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    In heavy traffic periods feet or subway are the only options to guarantee on time arrival in Manhattan.

    1,000 lawyers? WOWZERS! Scary. And I didn’t think lawyers belong to unions. Seems that the MTA blames unions for its financial woes.

    How often I’ve moaned about city planning which doesn’t seem to exist. Skyscrapers grow like poison ivy with no thought about what to do with all those people if they want to park or take a subway or bus already bursting at rush hour.

    Paris has had truck delivery to businesses at night for decades. Makes sense to me. It might not be that expensive to do as the cost of extra labor to unload at night might be saved in the time to travel and unload in heavy traffic.

  5. ASK Said:

    One of my college classmates became a NYC planner after graduation…she had a major in architecture and went on to get an advanced degree in public administration. After 6-8 years in Manhattan, she quit in frustration, complaining that the levels of bureaucracy simply assured that nothing ever reached any official who was in a position to take her ideas seriously. Why am I not surprised. And I agree with re skyscraper development…the only concession to over- development was the extension of the 7 Train to Hudson Yards. Still not showing any congestion, but I don’t think all those multi-million dollar apartments have been sold as yet…

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    This makes me sad, as did the tone deaf comment by NY Governor Cuomo who said that congestion pricing wouldn’t impact the general population as only the rich can afford to drive to Manhattan.

    I suspect the apartments in the Hudson Yards neighborhood will be bought by foreigners as most of the very expensive apartments elsewhere are. THAT IS if our current administration doesn’t keep weakening our image abroad by cockamamie proclamations and threats and alliances.

  7. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: You made so many good points!!! All good questions.

  8. Martin Johnson Said:

    Martin on Facebook: suppose that is a regional problem. I barely remember New York, lived in Stamford, and now here. Yet, I would like to be back, but only in good weather and humane politics. I keep thinking of that old saying or chiche: Too soon old, too late, smart.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    There will always be enough folks willing and able to support outrageous plans. Were this not so, the MTA would be long gone and replaced by an efficient outfit. No doubt about it, this is a nation of sheep. Further comment will lead to bad language.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I join you in your frustration. Incredible how poor performance is rewarded with increasingly larger budgets.

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