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MTA to Launch First-in-Nation Effort to Deliver Cleaner Air, Less Traffic and Better Transit for the New York Metropolitan Area

Updated April 26, 2024 6:45 p.m.

MTA Congestion Relief Zone Tolling to Begin Sunday, June 30

Applications for Discount and Exemption Plans Now Available Online

Comprehensive Public Education Campaign Starts Today with New Program Website

View Ad Campaign Materials

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that Central Business District Tolling, the country’s first congestion pricing program, will begin in the Congestion Relief Zone early on Sunday, June 30, at 12:00:01 a.m. Manhattan below 60 St is one of the most congested districts in the United States, with average traffic speeds of just 7mph. Excess traffic today means the average New Yorker wastes 117 hours a year sitting in gridlock, costing the regional economy $20 billion a year. The toll will result in 100,000 fewer vehicles entering the Congestion Relief Zone every day, resulting in less traffic and cleaner air, while providing $15 billion in funding for critical transit investments to improve the lives of the millions of people who rely on the MTA every day.

“Five years after the Legislature made congestion pricing New York State law, and with 4,000 pages of analysis, hundreds of hearings and outreach meetings behind us, New Yorkers are ready for the benefits – less traffic, cleaner air, safer streets and better transit,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber.

“New York City Transit is ready: we have added subway service over the past year, with more enhancements coming soon, and we are speeding up our buses with more camera enforcement,” said MTA New York City Transit President Richard Davey. “Congestion is a real issue in New York and the start of this program will finally tackle this long-standing and growing problem of traffic and air pollution, while also allowing us to make transit better through historic investments in zero-emission buses, new subway cars, accessible stations, and modern subway signals to run more trains more reliably."

“Last year, Bridges and Tunnels recorded its highest annual traffic volume in its nearly 100-year history,” said MTA Bridge and Tunnels President Catherine Sheridan. “And while our own efforts have reduced collisions despite the increase, congestion pricing aligns with an agency goal of moving traffic safely and efficiently. Bridges and Tunnels is ready for the start of this program and strongly encourages motorists to use E-ZPass and make sure their license plates are on their accounts, as that is how crossing credits, discounts and exemptions, where applicable, will be applied.”

Eighty percent of the revenue generated will go to capital improvements on NYC Transit subways and buses, ten percent to Metro-North Railroad and ten percent to Long Island Rail Road. Projects to be supported by congestion pricing include ADA upgrades, new electric buses, new subway and commuter railroad cars, systemwide state-of-good-repair work, and expansion projects like Second Avenue Subway Phase 2. For a sample of projects, view this map.

The MTA today also opened the application portals for discount and exemption plans, with detailed information on who qualifies and how to apply. Together with the website, they are part of a comprehensive public education campaign that includes a multi-platform advertising campaign, in-person community events, civic and business outreach, virtual webinars, email campaigns and much more. This builds on months of engagement and hundreds of public meetings over the past several years, including:

  • More than 25,000 comments and nearly 400 verbal testimonies at four public hearings received in just the most recent public comment period earlier this year.
  • Dozens of meetings with different stakeholder groups, with a special focus on environmental justice communities.
  • An extensive public comment period after the release of the draft Environmental Assessment in August 2022 that included six public hearings and resulted in more than 22,000 individual comments and more than 55,000 form submissions.

Those who wish to learn more about eligibility for discounts or exemptions, and/or apply can visit this webpage. Discount and exemption plans include:

  • Low-Income Discount Plan: Households earning less than $50,000 a year who travel frequently into the zone may apply to enroll for a discount on the peak toll.
  • Individual Disability Exemption Plan: As previously announced, individuals who have disabilities that prevent them from using transit may apply to enroll a designated vehicle that would be exempt via E-ZPass.
  • Organizational Disability Exemption Plan: As previously announced, organizations that operate vehicles that transport people with disabilities, such as Access-A-Ride, ambulette services, or schools and special education facilities may apply to enroll a vehicle that would be exempt via E-ZPass.
  • Emergency Vehicles: Organizations that operate qualifying authorized emergency vehicles may apply to enroll a vehicle that would be exempt via E-ZPass.
  • Buses and Commuter Vans: Organizations that operate school buses contracted with the NYC Department of Education, commuter vans licensed with the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, and buses providing scheduled commuter services open to the public may apply to enroll a vehicle that would be exempt via E-ZPass.
  • Specialized Government Vehicles: Organizations that operate publicly owned vehicles specifically designed to perform public works other than general transportation, and directly engaged in a core agency purpose, may apply to enroll a vehicle that would be exempt via E-ZPass.

In addition, New York State will offer a tax credit for low-income drivers who live in the Congestion Relief Zone. More information about the tax credit will be issued by the NYS Department of Finance in Fall 2024.

All tolling infrastructure needed for the Central Business District Tolling Program to begin has been installed across 108 locations, and over the last year, the MTA has rolled out service enhancements that will complement the start of congestion pricing:

Subways. New York City Transit is operating 1,200 additional subway trains every week with increases that took effect over several months last year on the lines. Six more lines – the  – will receive increases in service in June. Subway service continues to deliver the best on-time performance in the last 10 years.

Buses. The MTA is redesigning all the boroughs’ bus networks, which focuses on delivering more efficient service, better match today’s travel patterns, reduce travel times, increase off-peak service, and improve connections. The Staten Island Express Bus Network Redesign and the Bronx Local Bus Network Redesign have been successfully implemented with notable service increases during off-peak periods and other service improvements, resulting in an increase of 6% ridership since launch. In coordination with NYC DOT, implementation of busways has led to 27% increases in bus speed and up to 60% increases when combined with other Select Bus Service (SBS) treatments.

Long Island Rail Road. With the opening of Grand Central Madison, systemwide service increased an overall 41%: over 77,000 more trains a year, about a 35 % increase at eastern Queens stations, 30% increase in Brooklyn trains (55% increase in weekend service), and 50% increase in reverse peak service. A $7 peak City Ticket was introduced for travel on the LIRR and Metro-North Railroad between commuter railroad stations within city limits, and an LIRR Far Rockaway ticket, offering more cost-conscious fare options.

Metro-North Railroad. To increase transit options and encourage ridership, Metro-North Railroad has increased service in the Bronx, which is complemented by discounts offered by the $7 peak CityTicket. For the first three months of this year, the railroad averaged an on-time performance of 98.9%. Notably, March’s on-time performance was 98.9%, February’s on-time performance was 99.3%, and service-delivered rate, a service reliability measure, was 99.9%.