We talk a lot about congestion charges and road pricing on this blog. Here’s a list of some of those posts. I found 46 that were tagged with “road pricing.”
I continue to believe that it’s the only way that big cities can effectively solve the problem of traffic congestion. It’s not being caused by the bicycle lanes that were just added to your street. It’s not the new COVID street patios. And it’s not the new apartment that was just built with too many parking spots.
The problem is mispricing.
If you want free roads, then you don’t get free-flowing traffic. That’s how this equation works, which is why I have always thought it a good idea to dynamically price roads based on demand, and then to direct those funds toward more efficient forms of mobility — such as transit.
Despite all this, it’s not a very popular approach in this part of the world. Toronto looked at road pricing back in 2016, but we got nervous and backed away from it. New York City has also been looking at a congestion charge for Manhattan south of 60th Street for at least 4-5 years. But this one appears to still be on the table.
According to this recent CityLab article, New York’s congestion prices could look something like this (note that this chart includes other pre-existing tolls):
But with some exceptions (I think this is an interesting approach):
Primary residents of the Manhattan central business district, which is south of 60th Street, and New York State residents with adjusted gross income of less than $60,000 would be eligible for a state tax credit equal to the amount of the new tolls, paid during the taxable year.
In total, this current pricing scheme is expected to generate an additional $1 billion in annual revenue for the city’s transportation authority. The MTA also plans to bond against this revenue and raise an additional $15 billion for new transit projects.
This sounds like a reasonable approach to me.