Contrary to what its name suggests, congestion pricing is actually an effective tool to diminish traffic-related issues. In a nutshell, congestion pricing asks drivers to pay a surcharge to access more heavily trafficked areas and then directs that revenue toward infrastructure repairs. Major cities including London and Singapore have adopted congestion pricing to great effect. For example, Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel reports that zone charging in London reduced congestion by a quarter, increased average speeds by 30%, and decreased harmful carbon dioxide emissions by 20%.
Even in light of these success stories, congestion pricing is still a hard pill for New Yorkers to swallow. Many locals take umbrage at the idea of Cuomo undoing decades worth of mismanagement of the city’s subway system by taking money out of commuters’ pockets. In order to alleviate the overcrowding of New York’s subway and Manhattan’s roads, the Fix NYC panel proposes a one-time surcharge ranging from $2 for for-hire vehicles to a staggering $25.34 for trucks south of 60th Street and north of Battery Park between 6 am and 8 pm. The panel claims this plan could generate between $810 million and $1.1 billion annually, a number which isn’t likely to incentivize cost-conscious New Yorkers.
Habitual drivers may be pleased to learn that Cuomo’s congestion pricing plan was not adopted as part of the state budget agreement made on March 30, 2018. This result hardly comes as a shock considering the poll released by Quinnipiac University just one day prior revealed that 52% of New York City voters opposed Cuomo’s plan. Still, as leader of the opposition David I. Weprin alluded to after the meeting, the “war” on congestion pricing is far from over. However, before that time comes, New Yorkers are free to continue riding, or driving, into battle.