The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is relying on a congestion pricing scheme to generate much-needed revenue, but the overwhelming cost to motorists has prompted some experts and lawmakers to call for a new one. alternative funding sources.
The state agency that runs New York City’s subway, bus and commuter rail lines plans to charge some motorists up to $23 to drive into the central business district of Manhattan. The additional charges outlined in the congestion pricing scheme – the first of its kind for a US city – have not been widely received.
“Charging cars up to $23/day would be politically and economically explosive,” wrote Matt Fabian and Lisa Washburn of Municipal Markets Analytics in a published research note. dad on Monday.
For those traveling from Princeton, New Jersey, to the borough of Manhattan south of 60th Street, the average round-trip cost per vehicle will be $120 with additional fees, according to an Environmental Assessment report that the MTA announced last week. Drivers from Dutchess/Putnam Counties in New York, will be charged an average total of $111.
Daniel Solender, head of municipal securities at Lord Abbett & MTA Debt Holding Company. “So you can definitely see some feedback on how sensible this is for everyone and who would be affected and get different sections of the population to try to stop it.”
State lawmakers passed a congestion pricing plan in 2019, and the MTA is expected to receive federal approval shortly thereafter later this year. But after the Environmental Assessment report revealed the potential costs for motorists, some federal lawmakers, who opposed the plan in the first place, pushed back.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) and Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) say congested pricing puts economic strain on their constituents. Lawmakers on Monday said the MTA needs to examine the full extent of how federal funds have been spent over the past five years, including $15 billion in coronavirus aid to offset lost revenue from airline ticket boxes. .
While the MTA, the largest public transit provider in the US, needs a new revenue stream, New York officials should develop funding possibilities other than an in-school congestion pricing initiative. state case is not possible, Fabian and Washburn said in their report. Stakeholders should view the congestion pricing scheme in the context of state funding because it allows the state to avoid other traditional taxing options, the analysts wrote.
“The state should come up with funding alternatives as soon as possible,” they said.
Despite the backlash, New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday said she plans to continue with congestion pricing. The new tolls could come into effect by the end of 2023.
Supporters of the toll scheme say it will help fight pollution. The Environmental Assessment Report estimates that traffic in the county could be reduced by up to 9% and usage across the entire public transit system could increase by up to 2%.
Janno Lieber, executive director of the MTA, said Wednesday in an interview on WNYC. “It’s an air quality issue, it’s a health issue, it’s a congestion and an economic issue, and it’s also a matter of trying to cut traffic violence.”
Officials predict the congestion price will bring in about $1 billion a year that the MTA will borrow to raise $15 billion for its $51.5 billion multi-year capital plan.
Revenue from the congestion pricing scheme is a key part of the MTA’s capital plan, which will help upgrade decades of neglected subway systems and improve service to boost ridership. The money will be used to modernize the system, reduce delays, add elevators to more stations and buy more electric buses.
“They have to spend more money to make it better and bring more people back,” says Solender.
Transit passenger traffic has recovered more slowly than the MTA predicted. Weekday subway ridership is about 60% of 2019 levels, according to the MTA, revenue from Farebox and tolls used to cover about half of the MTA’s operating costs but has now had to pay 30%.
The drop in passenger numbers has weakened the transportation agency’s finances. The MTA faces a $2.6 billion operating budget deficit by 2025 and is seeking additional state funding as soon as next year to help reduce its projected shortfall.