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New York City Girds for Possible Congestion-Pricing Changes | Bloomberg

For New York’s governor and mayor to agree upon anything, it has to be a big deal, so their joint declaration that drivers entering Manhattan’s business core should have to pay a fee probably will change life for its millions of residents and visitors.

Under the plan sketched out Tuesday, electronic-tolling devices would be installed around the district south of 61st Street by 2020, with discounts for off-peak travel. Uber Technologies Inc. is among those supporting the push for so-called congestion pricing.

“The governor and I have come to an agreement, I think that is a pretty momentous occasion,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference in Queens. “And it’s a fair framework for moving forward. The legislative process must be respected and that’s where details get worked out. But my view is we will get there.”

Issues abound, including the ultimate question: Will lawmakers approve what Governor Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio agreed upon in concept? If they do, it’s sure to alter daily life in the most populous U.S. city. Will parents be able to drive a child to school without charge? (Probably not, except under special circumstance.) Will the plan add to an already expensive cost-of-living? (Probably yes.) Will Manhattanites and commuters forsake cars for mass transit? (Only if the fees pay to make the system more reliable.)

Variable Tolling

New York’s system will be different, Cuomo said.

“It has variable tolling, so we can encourage people to drive in non-peak hours,” Cuomo said during a WNYC radio interview Tuesday. “We can encourage deliveries to come in at non-peak hours. And we need to do two things: we need to finance the MTA, but we also need to reduce congestion. It doesn’t matter how well the bus is running if the bus is only going 4 miles an hour.”

Cuomo said the proliferation of ride services such as Uber and Lyft helped create the congestion. Transit officials say the tens of thousands of for-hire-vehicles have also helped cause a three-year decline in subway ridership, which has deepened the MTA operating deficit to the point where it could reach almost $1 billion by 2022.

Last year, the state legislature approved a passenger surcharge of $2.50 per cab ride and $2.75 per electronic-hail ride for for-hire-vehicles crossing below 96th Street in an effort to raise about $400 million a year for the MTA. The companies are fighting that law in court, and the revenue has been placed in escrow pending the lawsuit’s resolution.

Under the new proposal, subways would be given spending priority for the dedicated revenue generated by congestion pricing. It would be used to install new signaling technology, purchase subway cars, repair tracks and cars, and enhance accessibility.

Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft have been lobbying state officials for the congestion fee, which would impose a once-a-day charge against motorists in the zone.

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New York City Girds for Possible Congestion-Pricing Changes – Bloomberg.

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