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ICYMI: Governor Hochul Announces First-In-Nation Congestion Pricing Will Move Forward, Improving Air Quality and Reducing Traffic

Updated Jun 27, 2023 3:30 p.m.
traffic congestion in the central business district

Congestion Pricing Plan, Including Mitigation Measures for At-Risk Communities, Wins Federal Approval After Comprehensive Environmental Review

Toll Rate Structure Will Be Recommended by The Traffic Mobility Review Board After Comprehensive Study of Traffic Patterns and Other Key Factors

View Video of Press Conference 

View Photos of Event and Manhattan Traffic Congestion


Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the Federal Highway Administration has completed the environmental review of the State’s nation-leading congestion pricing program – Manhattan Central Business District Tolling – following a 30-day public availability period of the Final Environmental Assessment. The federal agency today issued a Finding of No Significant Impact, confirming the conclusion of the Final Environmental Assessment, which includes mitigation measures to be undertaken by the program, that the program will have no significant environmental impacts.

“Congestion pricing will reduce traffic in our crowded downtown, improve air quality and provide critical resources to the MTA,” Governor Hochul said. “I am proud of the thorough Environmental Assessment process we conducted, including responding to thousands of comments from community members from across the region. With the green light from the federal government, we look forward to moving ahead with the implementation of this program.”

The Environmental Assessment (EA), prepared by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT), and New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) in consultation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), found the program is expected to meet its objectives by reducing congestion and overall vehicle miles traveled, with related regional air quality benefits, while providing financial support to capital upgrades for the MTA’s public transportation system.

Before a tolling rate structure can be set, the Traffic Mobility Review Board (TMRB), a body required by the April 2019 State Legislation that established the Central Business District Tolling Program, will develop a recommended toll structure after considering factors such as traffic patterns, traffic mitigation measures, operating costs, public impact, public safety, vehicle types, discounts, peak and off-peak rates, air quality and emissions trends. The TMRB will provide a report explaining its recommendations, including the underlying review and analysis, to the Board of TBTA, which is coterminous with the MTA Board. The TBTA Board will adopt and establish the tolling structure.

If a tolling structure is adopted on a timeline as expected, toll collection could begin as early as May 2024, which gives contractors a contractually obligated 310 days to finish designing, developing, testing, and installing the tolling system and equipment.

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “Now the real work begins. The MTA Board, in its capacity as the TBTA Board, must adopt a tolling structure, and contractors need to set up tolling equipment throughout the tolling area. The result will be reduced traffic congestion and the establishment of one of the funding pillars for the MTA’s historic 2020-2024 Capital Program, a historic level of investment to make upgrades that will bring the network to a State of Good Repair, enhance accessibility, accelerate climate resiliency and eliminate transit deserts.”

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “Advancing this first-in-the-nation congestion pricing program is important for a multitude of reasons: cleaner air, decreased congestion on our roads, and smart and targeted investments in more equitable and accessible public transportation for the City of New York and those who live, visit and work here."

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said, “We are leading the nation in developing a congestion pricing program that will deliver a safer, healthier, and more equitable city. Central Business District Tolling will reduce congestion on our streets while also raising critical revenue for mass transit. We thank Mayor Adams, Governor Hochul, and our state and federal partners as we work to deliver this critical program.”

Program Benefits
The assessment finds that across the 28-county area studied in the environmental review, of those who commute to work in Manhattan's Central Business District (CBD), only 11% drive and 85% use public transportation. By reducing congestion and creating revenue for public transportation, the program will benefit millions of people every day. Through a package of mitigation measures, the program will also improve air quality in environmental justice communities.

Less traffic congestion: New York is the most congested city in the United States. Congested streets slow down buses, delay emergency vehicles and delivery services, raise the cost of doing business, and degrade our quality of life. The Final Environmental Assessment estimates a roughly 15-20% reduction in the number of vehicles entering the Central Business District, or about 110,000 to 143,000 fewer vehicles daily, about as many as enter Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge today.

New York City buses serve a greater share of low-income and minority households compared to other modes of transportation, including subways. Local bus speeds have declined 28% in the Central Business District since 2010 and Select Bus Service in Manhattan is 19% slower than Select Bus Service in other boroughs. While ongoing MTA initiatives such as the bus network redesigns have shown improvement in speeds, congestion pricing would not only improve travel times for bus service, but also paratransit service.

A more equitable, accessible transit system: The program will generate net revenues sufficient to leverage $15 billion for the MTA's 2020-2024 Capital Program, which includes transformational projects. The MTA's transit system, and particularly the bus network, promotes equity by serving low-income and minority populations. The funding will allow the MTA to progress on its aggressive timeline of completing accessibility improvements, along with performing necessary state-of-good repair work to the more-than-a-century old transit system.

A healthier, more sustainable future: Congestion pricing will improve overall regional air quality with one of the most comprehensive plans the region has implemented to support a greener future. The Final Environmental Assessment found in all tolling scenarios an overall decrease in vehicle-miles traveled in the Central Business District and region overall, and that the program would encourage some commuters to shift from their vehicles to transit.

Outreach and Community Engagement Unprecedented in Scope
Over the course of the environmental review process, MTA and its project partners held 19 early outreach sessions, of which nine were focused on environmental justice communities, 10 meetings with Environmental Justice Technical Advisory and Stakeholder Working Groups, and six public hearings after the release of the draft Environmental Assessment in August 2022. Nearly 950 speakers participated in early outreach sessions and public hearings, combined. Additional meetings were held separately for elected officials, community boards, transit and environmental advocates, and other interested parties. TBTA and the State and City departments of transportation received and responded to more than 22,000 individual comments and more than 55,000 form submissions during the formal comment period.

The Environmental Assessment's Study Area
In consideration of public input, the Final Environmental Assessment analyzes the potential impacts of Central Business District Tolling on traffic congestion, transit, air quality and numerous other environmental indicators in 28 counties across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Study Area contains 22 million people, including 12.3 million residents residing in environmental justice communities, and five Tribal Nations.

The Final Environmental Assessment assesses impacts to traffic and public transportation for a regional transportation network with 28.8 million journeys per average weekday, 61,000 highway linkage points, 4,600 traffic analysis zones, 44,267 bus stops or transit stations, 4,170 transit routes, and more than a dozen public transportation providers in addition to the MTA, including NJ TRANSIT, PATH, ferries, and regional bus systems including Westchester County Bee-Line, NICE, and Suffolk County Transit.

Background on the Central Business District Tolling Program
The Central Business District Tolling Program was mandated by the State in April 2019 and modeled on urban congestion pricing programs around the world to reduce traffic congestion and raise needed revenue to improve public transportation. The program will charge vehicles a toll for traveling in Manhattan south of and inclusive of 60th Street, excluding through-traffic on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, West Side Highway, Battery Park Underpass, and roadway portions of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel connecting to West Street.

Representative Jerrold Nadler said, “The FWHA’s announcement of a Finding of No Significant Impact in their environmental review is a victory for New Yorkers in our fight for cleaner air, safer streets, and improved mass transit. I have fought for congestion pricing from its inception because it is the best way to get cars off our overly crowded roads and allow us to reimagine our streets to create green space for parks, protected bike lanes, and dedicated bus lanes to make commute times faster and more efficient. Now that this program has the green light from the federal government, I look forward to my continued partnership with the MTA and community leaders to finally implement congestion pricing without delay.”

Representative Nydia M. Velázquez said, “This review showing no significant environmental impact of our congestion pricing program is an important step toward our goal of achieving less pollution, reduced traffic, improved public transit, and a greener New York City. New York City’s congestion pricing plan can serve as a national model for how cities can improve air quality with limited impact on residents. We are now one step closer to making this vision a reality, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this done.”

Representative Ritchie Torres said, “Today, with the Finding of No Significant Impact and conclusion of the Final Environmental Assessment, we take an important step forward in implementing a first-in-the-nation congestion pricing plan that achieves multiple objectives I’ve long championed – improving air quality, stabilizing the MTA, and reducing congestion. This is the result of tireless collaboration among federal, state, local, and community partners who acted intentionally in listening to the concerns of my constituents and prioritized the unique health and environmental needs of the Bronx. Together, having secured $155 million in new investments to significantly reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, we can move forward with a congestion pricing plan that at its core prioritizes the principles of environmental justice for a community like mine that for too long has been overlooked.”

Representative Dan Goldman said, “We are now one more step closer to implementing congestion pricing in New York City and paving the way for vital improvements in our air quality and public transportation system. Congestion pricing will help curb the untenable levels of car traffic on our streets, strengthen our public transit systems, and uplift our vulnerable communities who bear the brunt of the negative impacts of air pollution. I’m excited to take the next step in building a greener, safer, more efficient city with congestion pricing.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said, “It’s a great day for the environment, improved subway service, safer streets and faster commutes with the green light from the Federal Highway Administration that congestion pricing can proceed. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for shepherding the Manhattan Central Business Tolling program to fruition and look forward to working with the Traffic Mobility Review Board and local stakeholders to ensure that my constituent concerns are addressed before the program is finalized.”

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said, “The greenlighting of MTA’s Environmental Assessment marks a major transportation milestone that will keep New York City’s streets and subways moving for years to come. I look forward to working with our state partners to swiftly implement a successful congestion pricing program in lower Manhattan that reduces pollution, speeds up commutes, and funds essential signal improvements and accessibility upgrades to our transit system.”

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, “Manhattan has some of the lowest rates of car ownership in the country, but some of the worst traffic. Congestion pricing will help reduce the number of vehicles on city streets, while also providing the public transit system with funding it desperately needs. The finding of no significant impact is a major step forward and reflects the important commitments the MTA is making to ensure that this program will be successful. There are still details that need to be worked out, so I encourage New Yorkers to participate in the public hearing process. Now is the time to ensure that this program is set up for success.”

Regional Plan Association President & CEO Tom Wright said, “To truly grapple with the New York region’s historic congestion problem, we must have a long-term plan to address air pollution and traffic, improve transit options, and encourage shared economic prosperity. Congratulations to Governor Hochul and MTA CEO Janno Lieber for their leadership and for receiving the Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI) from US DOT for congestion pricing. Now begins the hard part for the MTA and the Traffic Review Mobility Board: developing a program that limits exemptions and offers appropriate credits so everyone pays a similar price to drive into Manhattan’s core. With the right credits, congestion pricing program can be implemented in a way that eliminates toll shopping and benefits both New York and New Jersey.”

Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC) Executive Director Lisa Daglian said, “This is a banner day for riders! It marks a significant step forward for our region’s health and the well-being of our transit system. Congestion Pricing will mean less traffic, better air quality and reap billions of dollars to improve the MTA’s signals and stations, improve accessibility, buy new rolling stock, and build big things like the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway and bring Metro-North into Penn Station. In addition to transit riders, millions of other people will benefit from Congestion Pricing, including drivers in midtown and our neighbors in New Jersey. We applaud USDOT, Governor Hochul, the MTA and its partners, NYS DOT and NYC DOT, for being so diligent in their efforts to ensure that mitigation efforts are being put in place to address the concerns that were raised during the review process. Where New York leads, others will follow.”

New York Building Congress President & CEO Carlo A. Scissura, Esq. said, “It’s been a long time coming, but federal approval for congestion pricing will provide a seismic shift in our ability to better fund mass transit and shift New Yorkers from their cars into an improved regional transportation network. The $15 billion we will see invested in MTA capital programs will help us avoid a predicted ‘death spiral,’ and instead see New York finally build out the world-class, resilient, and accessible-to-all transit system we’ve long deserved.”

New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said, “We cannot drive our way out of the climate crisis. This first-in-the-nation program will not only reduce traffic in Manhattan, it will improve air quality and public health throughout the New York metropolitan region. Congestion pricing will also provide much-needed funding for the MTA to expand and improve service, which will help get commuters off the road and onto public transit. We commend Governor Hochul, the MTA, and Mayor Adams for their bold environmental leadership and for never wavering on this issue, and we look forward to the implementation of this program so our entire region can reap the benefits as soon as possible."

Lime Senior Director of Government Relations Phil Jones said, "We applaud Kathy Hochul and the MTA for moving forward a first-in-the-nation policy that puts people and public transit over cars. At Lime, our mission is to build a future where transportation is shared, affordable and carbon free, and policies like congestion pricing are vital to achieving this vision. Congestion pricing will bring new investment in public transit to communities long left off the map, while reducing New Yorkers' reliance on driving and making our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders. With congestion pricing, New York takes an unequivocal stand for a greener future and will immediately become a national model for how to fund public transit upgrades."

Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Renae Reynolds said, “Today’s announcement of final federal approval of congestion pricing is a win for our state, region, nation, and planet. Climate change is a crisis of enormous proportions; 40% of greenhouse gases in our country comes from transportation. Reducing emissions from cars and trucks and improving transit so that it is a viable and reliable choice for our mobility needs, is critical for reaching our climate goals. Governor Hochul is a national leader by overseeing congestion pricing implementation and we hope to see other cities and states follow suit.”

Transportation Alternatives Deputy Executive Director for Public Affairs Elizabeth Adams said, "This is a great day for New Yorkers and we applaud the Governor Hochul and the MTA for this announcement. Now that congestion pricing has cleared its final federal hurdle, it's time to take steps to ensure this transformational policy is implemented as effectively and equitably as possible. In anticipation of fewer cars in the central business district, we have the ability to redesign our streets for people, invest in transit-oriented alternatives that reduce congestion, and build pedestrian-first infrastructure. Congestion pricing’s success demands large scale investments in better walking, biking, and public transit in every corner of our city."

Riders Alliance Senior Organizer Danna Dennis said, "Public transit riders are thrilled that Washington has finally approved congestion pricing so New York can fix the subway network we all depend on. We look forward to working with Governor Hochul and transit officials to ensure a successful implementation so the MTA can make essential upgrades and deliver the modern, reliable, accessible subway that New Yorkers, commuters, and visitors need and deserve."

Harlem Independent Living Center Executive Director Eman Rimawi-Doster said, “Congestion Pricing is a game changer for those of us with disabilities who use the paratransit service Access-A-Ride in NYC. Many of us are in traffic jams for hours. But congestion pricing has the ability to speed up our trips and get disabled New Yorkers to their destinations. 175,000 Access-A-Ride customers thank you all those who supported this. This will make a huge difference to our lives.”

Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled Executive Director Joe Rappaport said, "Gov. Hochul and the MTA made a legally binding commitment in 2022 to make nearly every one of the system's 472 subway stations accessible to people with mobility impairments -- and the funds raised by congestion pricing will help them keep their word. Like everyone else, disabled New Yorkers also will benefit from the less crowded streets and cleaner air that congestion pricing promises.