NYC hopes congestion fee won’t get stuck in legislative gridlock

January 30, 2018

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a so-called congestion charge in an attempt to combat New York City—and specifically Manhattan—traffic jams. If implemented, drivers would face fees of $11.52 to enter the most traffic-prone areas of Manhattan, and trucks would see a daily fee of $25.34.

The Manhattan charge, which would be levied on any car entering the island lower than 60th street, is far from the first proposal lobbed into the heart of NYC’s gridlock. Numerous bills have been proposed and rejected, dating back four decades, though none ever made it past the state legislature for a variety of reasons.

London famously employs a similar fee to ease its own notorious congestion, with motorists in the U.K. capitol charged up to £11.50 to enter certain areas of London’s city center on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

One of the key aims of the proposed charge is to help speed up traffic, which last year slowed to an average just 4.7 mph in Manhattan. A likely impact is that the fee will hit the taxi and ride-share industries particularly hard, with surcharges predicted to be anywhere from $2 to $5 for each ride within Manhattan’s congestion zone.

Two central aspects of the new proposal separate this version from its predecessors. Drivers who enter the island via the East River (and who avoid the congestion zone), won’t be assessed the fee. Also, the plan stipulates that no fees would be levied while mass transit is being repaired (both on the surface and below).

Opponents, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, argue that a congestion fee impacts middle class residents who commute into Manhattan every day, while proponents say the number of middle class commuters who drive themselves into the city center each day is negligible.

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