New York will be first US city to charge congestion toll

NEW YORK — New York City is set to become the first American metropolis that seeks to ease traffic congestion, cut pollution and boost mass transit by charging motorists a hefty toll for the privilege of driving into its most crammed areas. So can it work?

If the experience of other cities around the world that have tried it is any indication, the answer appears to be yes. London, Singapore and Stockholm have all reported that “congestion pricing” systems similar to the one now being planned for Manhattan led to initial reductions in traffic and improvements in air quality, while creating a steady stream of revenue to support public transit and other infrastructure.

“New York is a prime example of cities where it tends to work, which is very high density, with relatively good public transportation” or at least the skeleton of a good system, said John Rennie Short, professor of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

But critical questions still to be resolved that could determine what the experiment ultimately looks like and whether it is successful, experts said.

New York has to work out details of the plan, which would use a network of license plate readers to bill vehicles for using surface roads anywhere in Manhattan south of Central Park. That includes the cost of the toll, which is likely to be more than $10.

Will the tolls raise enough money to make the city’s strained mass transit system reliable? Is there enough alternative transportation for commuters who decide to give up their cars? How will the tolling system affect the delivery trucks, taxis and ride-hail vehicles that now comprise a big proportion of Manhattan traffic? And will so many vehicles be made exempt from the tolls that the effect on travel patterns is minimal?

Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University, predicted that in the end the city might see only a modest decline in traffic, as people either absorb the cost and keep driving, or switch to services like Uber and Lyft.

“We’re not going to see people abandon their cars to get into the subway,” he said.

Primarily, he said, the system is likely to benefit the public transportation system, which now has a new source of revenue for much-needed repairs and upgrades.

“This is a terrific victory … for the mass transit ridership and for New York’s capacity to respond to the crisis of its mass transit system,” he said.

New York state legislators approved a conceptual plan Monday for the tolling system, which would supplement an existing network of bridge and tunnel tolls that charge $9.50 to $15 for vehicles coming into Manhattan via seven of the 20 bridges and tunnels leading onto the island.

A panel will now be convened to set the toll prices — one recent proposal suggested around $12 for passenger vehicles — and create possible exemptions or credits for some drivers. That could include discounts for motorists already paying a toll enter Manhattan. The earliest the tolls could begin is Dec. 31, 2020.

One model for the system has existed since 2003 in London, which offers evidence that the system could work — and a cautionary note for how it may need to adapt over time.

Initially, London charged drivers 5 pounds, or about $6.50, to come into the central part of the city during the workweek.

The toll initially had a considerable effect. In its first year, congestion dropped 30%, buses got 6% faster and there was a 12% reduction in emissions.

In recent years, however, congestion has dramatically worsened, despite the fee rising to 11.50 pounds, about $15, per day. Officials say that was due in large part to the flood of app-based for-hire vehicles like Uber, which were initially exempt from the tolls. As a result, the city is lifting the exemption starting April 8.

In Stockholm, a pilot program that was put in place with less-than-enthusiastic public support in 2006 became much more popular as people saw immediate drops in congestion and air pollution, so much so that residents voted to make it permanent in 2007. Singapore’s system has been around since the 1970s.

About 717,000 vehicles a day enter the Manhattan zone considered for the program, a recent city study said. One estimate said a congestion pricing plan with an $11.52 toll could reduce traffic by 13 percent and raise gross revenues of $1.1 billion per year, much of which would go to support trains and buses after expenses.

“Even a small reduction in traffic can have a substantial impact on the larger traffic network,” said Kate Slevin, senior vice president of state programs and advocacy at Regional Plan Association, an advocacy organization that supports the congestion toll.

Asked about concerns over whether such a beleaguered transit system could even handle more riders if people decided not to drive into Manhattan, Slevin pointed out that transit officials have almost two years to take steps that will help, like redoing bus routes.

“The good news is there’s going to be a couple of years before the congestion toll is turned on,” she said.

News Videos
Henderson fails to investigate the drug overdose death of one of its officers
Henderson Police Department's internal affairs did not investigate the 2014 drug overdose death of an officer. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Syphilis Awareness Day
Dr. Joe Iser, District Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, discusses the effects and issues with syphilis in the Las Vegas community on April 16, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas diocese IDs 33 ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse
The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas released a list on Friday of 33 “credibly accused” of sexual abuse who at some point served in the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CCSD Arbor View meeting
The Clark County School Board hears from the public about racial tensions at Arbor View High School on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Amelia Park-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Parents of autistic student battle Clark County School District
Joshua and Britten Wahrer, parents of a special education student, are battling the Clark County School District for the right to equip their son with a monitoring device. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Metro homeless outreach a shift in strategy
Lt. Joe Sobrio discusses the new homeless outreach team for Metro. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prayer for Opportunity Scholarships
Las Vegas students and adults hold a prayer meeting about the Opportunity Scholarship program on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Solar scams on the rise in Nevada
As Nevada’s solar industry has made a resurgence, solar scammers have followed suit.
Clark County schools and the late bus issue
Year after year, late or no-show buses in the Clark County School District draw the ire of parents and students alike. One year the problem even prompted a parent to crack a school bus window in frustration over a late drop-off. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 southbound congested near Primm Sunday afternoon
Drivers heading toward California on Interstate 15 should expect heavy traffic and a 13-mile backup Sunday afternoon.
Learning lifesaving skills in advance of fire season
Students and firefighters attend a training session at Fire Station 80 in Blue Diamond, Saturday, March 30, 2019. The training session helps volunteer firefighters obtain necessary annual certification to work wild fires.
Car restoration behind prison walls
Inmates share their experiences working for the Southern Desert Correctional Center auto body shop in Indian Springs while learning valuable skills.
Parent remembers Las Vegas boy killed by car
People visit a memorial at the intersection of South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue at at Faiss Park Wednesday, March 27, 2019, where Jonathan Smith, 12, of Las Vegas, died after he was struck while crossing Fort Apache Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Couple left with surprise medical bills after visit to the hospital
Michael Pistiner took his wife, Marta Menendez-Pistiner, to the ER in January after she fainted twice and appeared to be having a seizure. Despite paying $856 monthly for health insurance, the two, self-employed musicians, were stuck with more than $5,700 in hospital and doctor bills after than hour-and-a-half visit. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Las Vegas police brief the media on fatal crash
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Nick Farese addresses the media about a car accident at South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue that left one minor dead and one hospitalized on Monday, March 25, 2019. (Mike Shoro/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Arbor View parent talks about racial issues at the school
Lawanna Calhoun, a former Arbor View parent, talks about the state of the school. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Foley talks about 30 years of living HIV-positive
Jim Foley, who was diagnosed as HIV positive 30 years ago, talks at his home in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic Slows to a Crawl on I-15S Near Primm
Traffic slowed to a crawl around 2:30p Sunday, on I-15S near Primm, Nevada.
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Home Front Page Footer Listing