New York City to Charge Congestion Fees

New York City has agreed to institute a “congestion pricing” system that would charge vehicles a usage fee to enter certain sections of the city.

The proposal, which is part of a $175 billion budget signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, is the said to be the first traffic fee approved by an American city. International cities such as London, Singapore and Stockholm already have such schemes.

NYC aims to implement its system in 2021. Pricing and logistic details will be set by the city’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

Experts expect NYC to charge cars as much as $14 and trucks $25 for entering the central business district during peak times. Rates during week nights and weekends would be less.

Such fees are projected to raise as much as $1 billion per year. Revenue would be used to improve NYC’s public transportation systems, with 80% earmarked for the subway and bus services. The remaining 20% would be split evenly between the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad.

Several systems are being evaluated for how to detect and charge vehicles entering the city. Among those under consideration are license plate recognition, smartphone apps and existing electronic tolling systems, such as NYC’s E-ZPass.

Buses, emergency vehicles, diplomatic vehicles and those registered to people with disabilities would not be charged for entering the city. Electrified vehicles also could be exempt.

Washington, D.C., and several cities in California also are studying congestion pricing.