NEW YORK (AP) — New York has received a critical federal approval for its first-in-the-nation plan to charge big tolls to drive into the most visited parts of Manhattan, part of an effort to reduce traffic, improve air quality and raise funds for the city’s public transit system.
The program could begin as soon as the spring of 2024, bringing New York City into line with places like London, Singapore, and Stockholm that have implemented similar tolling programs for highly congested business districts.
Under one of several tolling scenarios under consideration, drivers could be charged as much as $23 a day to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street, with the exact amount still to be decided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is overseeing the long-stalled plan.
The congestion pricing plan cleared its final federal hurdle after getting approved by the Federal Highway Administration, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Monday.
“With the green light from the federal government, we look forward to moving ahead with the implementation of this program,” Hochul, a Democrat, said in a statement.
People headed into Manhattan already pay big tolls to use many of the bridges and tunnels connecting across the Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers. The special tolls for the southern half of Manhattan would come on top of those existing charges.
The new tolls are expected to generate another $1 billion yearly, which would be used to finance borrowing to upgrade the subway, bus and commuter rail systems operated by the MTA.
The state Legislature approved a conceptual plan for congestion pricing back in 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic combined with a lack of guidance from federal regulators stalled the project.
The plan has been sharply opposed by officials in New Jersey, where people bound for Manhattan by car could see costs of commuting skyrocket. Taxi and car service drivers have also objected, saying it would make fares unaffordable. Some MTA proposals have included caps on tolls for taxis and other for-hire vehicles.