It looks like all systems are a go for New York City’s congestion pricing plan, amid some lingering concerns about the initiative. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that the Tennessee-based company, TransCore, has been contracted to operate the new tolling system aimed at reducing traffic in Manhattan, according to a report by NY’s Daily News.
- TransCore will design and maintain New York City’s new congestion pricing plan set to go in effect in Manhattan in 2021.
- Critics of the plan contend that the plan could cause a hardship on area business and motorists already struggling financially.
- Studies show that congestion pricing can help to reduce traffic and help cities improve their public transit systems.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has officially contracted TransCore to manage the congestion pricing initiative set to go in effect in New York City in 2020.
The announcement comes amid ongoing debate in New York about whether the pros of the traffic-reducing initiative outweighs the cons.
Commuters traveling into Manhattan using taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are already feeling the pinch of New York’s congestion pricing plan. (Photo: Getty Images)
Weighing the benefits
Critics of the plan, which is aimed at curbing traffic in NYC’s bustling Manhattan district, maintain that congestion pricing could have a negative impact on local business in the area. Others have raised concerns about the additional strain the traffic initiative would put on motorists already suffering economic hardship.
The cost to use Uber, Lyft or any other ride-hailing service will now include a $2.75 surcharge, as part of an initiative being coupled with the city’s congestion pricing plan in Manhattan, according to an ABC News report. Those looking to hitch a taxi into Manhattan will see an increase of $2.50 per ride.
On the other hand, proponents of congestion pricing contend that the measure will help to significantly reduce traffic in the area, while raising much needed funds to help pay for needed improvements to New York City’s subway system.
New York City’s move to enact a congestion pricing plan, the first of its kind in the U.S. follows a global trend, which first began taking hold in Europe as a way to grapple with the growing traffic issues in major cities.
According to a study by the National League of Cities (NLC), congestion pricing had reduced traffic in Stockholm by 22 percent. In addition, even with Stockholm’s population surge, miles driven in the inner city have dropped by 27 percent, compared to 5 percent in the outlining areas. The NLC report found that Singapore, which has the oldest congestion pricing program, has seen its traffic in the inner city drop by 24 percent since enacting its current congestion pricing plan in 1998, even amid is huge population increase.
Los Angeles is one of several cities considering congestion pricing measures to reduce traffic. (Photo: Getty Images)
Still more to prove
A study by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) contends that congestion pricing plan for West Los Angeles would, in fact, reduce the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 21 percent in the area and vehicle hours traveled (VHT) by 24 percent during peak travel times.
The SCAG study also found that the pilot areas for the LA congestion charging areas, being dubbed as “Go Zones,” could generate a net average of $69.2 million a year in revenues for various forms of city and pedestrian improvements.
However, some critics are also quick to point to some of the ups and downs that congestion traffic has had in London in recent years, since launching its traffic-reducing program in 2003, as detailed in the NLC study. In 2018, France scrapped its plans to implement a congestion pricing plan, fearing that it make create further division between those living in cities and rural areas, according to The Local Fr.
Under the contract with MTA, TransCore will be paid $507 million to design, build, operate and maintain the high-tech toll system used to collect road fees from motorists traveling into the designated area, according to Daily News.
Exemptions and pricing for the New York City road fees is expected to be announced sometime around November 15, 2020.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The state of New York’s approach to enacting congestion pricing in Manhattan will likely be modeled by other U.S. municipalities looking to effectively navigate some of the fallout when working on plans for similar measures aimed at reducing traffic.