StreetsPAC's Testimony to MTA Board on Proposed Congestion Pricing Toll Schedule

Yesterday, we testified at the MTA Board's hearing on the Traffic Mobility Review Board's proposed toll structure for congestion pricing. We're strongly supportive of the TMRB's recommendations, which will raise the legally required $1 billion in annual revenue for the MTA capital program while also putting a significant dent in congestion and speeding up trips in the Central Business District.

Our full testimony follows below.

StreetsPAC is a political action committee and advocacy organization working to improve the safety of New York City’s streets and the efficacy of the region’s public transit system. Since our inception in 2013, we have supported the adoption of a congestion-pricing program in New York City to both raise much-needed revenue for the MTA’s capital program and to reduce crippling and costly traffic congestion. The Central Business District Tolling Program will improve the city’s air, make the city’s streets safer, and increase equity in our transportation system.

We strongly support the Traffic Mobility Review Board’s recommendations for the CBDTP tolling schedule. The proposed $15 peak toll for passenger vehicles comes in at the low end of the range of toll scenarios considered by the TMRB, and yet will be substantial enough to both meet the legally required $1 billion in annual revenue while also reducing congestion in the Central Business District by upwards of 15% and speeding up trips by approximately 10%.

Furthermore, the recommended off-peak toll of just $6.00 for trucks (and $9.00 for the largest trucks and $3.75 for passenger vehicles) creates a strong incentive for off-hour deliveries, while the extended peak hours recognize that heavy CBD traffic is a reality through a good chunk of the day, as well as weekends.

The $2.50 ride-hail and $1.25 taxi fare surcharges will also help boost trip speeds in the congestion zone, and will be especially beneficial to cab drivers, according to traffic-modeling guru Charles Komanoff.

We also commend the TMRB for wisely drawing a hard line against the more than 120 separate requests for toll exemptions, any of which would benefit an unjustly privileged few while necessitating a higher base toll for the many. At the same time, there needs to be zero tolerance for toll cheats, and we echo the MTA’s call that toll evasion be rightly classified as theft of service.

To that end, we also support the MTA’s smart decision to create an Individual Disability Exemption Plan to allow persons with a qualifying disability to register for an exemption, which will cut down on fraud while also ensuring that people with legitimate disabilities who don’t drive their own cars won’t be left out.

Finally, we do have some concerns about the recommendation to limit the toll credits for the East River and Hudson River tunnels to $5. We believe those credits should equal 100% of the tunnel tolls to obviate toll-shopping, and we do urge the MTA to re-examine that proposal in adopting the final toll schedule.

That said, we commend the TMRB for by and large getting their toll proposal right, and we urge the MTA’s board to move quickly to adopt the recommendations. New York City has been waiting for decades for congestion pricing, and with the MTA in dire need of capital investment and CBD traffic conditions at their historical worst, we cannot wait a moment longer.

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment

StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.