Photo Credit: Joiseyshowaa via Flickr
By Asar John
As part of the 2020 New York State Budget, the NYS Legislature reached a deal to start congestion pricing, which would mean that starting late next year drivers travelling south of 60th Street in Manhattan would be charged a toll.
The NYS legislature hopes to use congestion pricing as a new tolling policy system that will discourage driving in certain public areas in New York that often experience overcrowding due to increased demand. In this case, the public area would be Manhattan Central Business District.
Though the price of the toll is currently undetermined, 80 percent of the money made off of the tolls will go to the MTA, as part of their “Fast Forward Plan,” which is spearheaded by the New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford. The other 10 percent will be given to the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad.
Proponents say the move will generate nearly $1 billion a year, and reduce the amount of pollution in that area.
“This plan was once to deal with congestion in a particular part of Manhattan,” said Robert Chaouad, a Political Science professor at York. “A second element decided that the amount of money generated from the taxes could be used to repair the subway system, and a third could be congestion pricing being used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
York students had several things to say about the new tolling policy, from whether they believed it would help with congestion and reducing greenhouse gases to whether it simply would not and was just another way for the city to take more money from New Yorkers.
“I think it is ridiculous because the price for transportation is already high and they want to raise it,” said sophomore Rehana Anif, an Education major. “There is no point of trying to charge some other people if they are not even using public transportation.”
Some students also pointed out the fact that the MTA is already increasing ride fares despite the fact that they will be receiving funds from the tolls .
Fares rose on April 21, but only for certain fare payments. For example, 7-day unlimited MetroCards rose from $32 to 33, and the 30-day unlimited went from $121 to 127. However, the base fare for a regular MetroCard remains at $2.75.
Students also pointed out that there are already 15 toll crossings in New York City, with the highest tolls charged on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which is $19, without EZ-Pass. The Verrazano-Narrows also has the highest toll in the nation.
“I think this is just an excuse to make more money from people,” says Jahan Shah, a computer science major, who frequently drives into the soon to be tolled section of Manhattan. “Yeah it might decrease traffic, but it’s just not fair to drivers to put tolls there because there is already so many tolls.”