Driving in NYC is getting a lot more expensive and a lot more confusing soon. In 2019 New York City is going to introduce America's first congestion pricing program. If the program works, many like it may follow, but for now this site will focus on NYC.
Below is everything you need to know about driving into NYC and the new, 2019 congestion pricing rules.
Congestion pricing will focus on the Manhattan Central Business District (CBD). This is all of Manhattan below 60th Street. That means Times Square, Penn Station, Port Authority, Grand Central Terminal, SoHo, FiDi, Union Square... almost everything below 60th.
Keep in mind, some areas are exempt! These include:
Interestingly it seems that "for-hire vehicles" like taxi cabs and Ubers could have to pay in a wider zone, possibly as far north as 96th Street. NY State's Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget already put into effect a surchage for for-hire vehicles travelling below Manhattan's 60th Street.
Congestion pricing is going into effect, but we don't know how much it will cost yet. These details are still pending as of the end of March 2019. Expected prices are still guesses at this point, but the current thinking is that prices will fluctuate with peak driving times, with cars paying up to $15 and trucks up to $25.
We don't expect to see any firm numbers until November 15, 2020, which it so say after Election Day 2020. The elections will take place on November 3, 2020.
Congestion pricing is going into effect, but we don't know how much it will cost yet. These details are still pending as of the end of March 2019.
This will certainly take some figuring out, and it's far from final, but expect to see a program similar to EZ Pass, which is to say an electronic system with toll collection.
With an April 1, 2019 kickoff, due to the timing of the New York State budget, we will know more details soon, but nothing major should happen for at least 2-3 years. All the firm information we have as of right now was laid out in the NY State FY 2020 Executive Budget plan.
The fares collected through the congestion pricing program are going to form a "dedicated revenue stream" for the Metro Transit Authority's (MTA) transportation capital construction plan. The money will be invested in the subway, bus transportation, and areas of NYC lacking in transportation options.
Other cities in the US are waiting and watching. Some even have plans proposed for their own congestion pricing programs. Some cities at the top of the list are Los Angelos, Chicago and San Francisco, but Atlanta, Phoenix, and others are possible candidates as well. San Francisco seems like the most likely candidate given that the San Francisco County Transportation Board Authority, in February 2019, allocated $500,000 to study congestion pricing.
When citing examples of congestion pricing, London is always the go-to. It has had a huge impact on the amount of cars in the central business district of London since the program started in 2003. Other major cities that have had programs are Stockholm (Trängselskatt i Stockholm), Milan (Area C), and Singapore (Electronic Road Pricing).
Congestion pricing might make a lot of sense in economic theory, but actually implementing it in an existing, busy city is no easy task. Congestion charging systems normally take place in a few key varieties. One is a central business district distinction, where a belt of tolls is placed around the city center. This is easier to do in a place like Manhattan where rivers and other barriers limit entry points. An extension of this method simply charges for people to get into the city. This is already in place in New York City given the tolls on the Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, and others, many of which have peak and off-peak pricing.
Another type of congestion pricing will charge people to get onto a road or lane of a road which will speed them through where it would otherwise be slow or prohibitied.