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Central Business District Tolling Program

The Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program would lower traffic and help MTA improve its transit system. Vehicles that enter or remain in Manhattan’s CBD would be tolled. Prior studies have shown that programs similar to the CBD Tolling Program can improve air quality. Investing in an improved mass transit system could help promote equity by providing expanded access to the system.

Public Comment Period

On August 10, 2022, the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority, the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration released an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposed CBD Tolling Program, which evaluates the effects of the program. Recognizing the significant public interest in the CBD Tolling Program’s EA, and in response to requests, the EA’s public comment period remained open an additional 14 days and closed on Friday, September 23, 2022, instead of Friday, September 9, as previously announced. The official comment period on the EA and the proposed Section 4(f) de minimis impact determination for the CBD Tolling Program was 45 days long from August 10, 2022 through September 23, 2022. Comments submitted by September 23, 2022 will be part of the Project record. 

Public Hearings:

After the release of the Environmental Assessment in August 2022, we held six public hearings.

View recordings of our past public hearings.

View recordings of the presentation in multiple languages.

How the Central Business District Tolling Program Would Work

The Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program would be the first congestion pricing program in the United States. The Environmental Assessment, which the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration has said we must undertake, looks at the environmental effects of the program. Congestion pricing has helped other cities around the world and we believe it would also help the people who visit, live, or work in the New York City metropolitan region. By reducing traffic and helping improve mass transit, the CBD Tolling Program would also make it faster to travel and would improve air quality.

If the CBD Tolling Program Environmental Assessment is approved by the Federal Highway Administration, vehicles that enter or remain in the Central Business District would be tolled. The toll would be paid using an E-ZPass. If you do not have an E-ZPass, toll bills would be mailed to the address of the registered vehicle owner and are paid using Tolls by Mail.

 

view of street with mast arm over the roadway with tolling equipment
Rendering of a proposed mast arm housing tolling infrastructure and tolling system equipment over the roadway at Broadway between 60th and 61st Streets

When and How Toll Amounts Would Be Decided

In April 2019, the state enacted the MTA Reform and Traffic Mobility Act (the Act), which states that the MTA's Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) needs to design, develop, build, and run the Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program.

An Environmental Assessment is required by the federal government. It looks at the potential environmental effects of the CBD Tolling Program. The Environmental Assessment process includes robust public outreach. If the federal government approves the program, it can be implemented.

There are two ways that the tolls would be set:

1. The Act says the CBD Tolling Program must:

  • Charge passenger vehicles only once each day for entering or remaining in the Central Business District
  • Change the toll rates at set times or days; this is called variable tolling
  • Allow residents of the CBD making less than $60,000 to get a New York State tax credit for CBD tolls paid
  • Not toll qualifying authorized emergency vehicles and qualifying vehicles transporting people with disabilities

2.  A Traffic Mobility Review Board (TMRB) would recommend toll rates to the MTA’s TBTA Board, which has final say on what the rates could be. The TMRB must think about many things before it could recommend toll rates, including:

  • How traffic might move
  • Air quality and pollution
  • Costs
  • Effect on the public
  • Safety

The Act also says the TMRB would need to recommend a plan for credits, discounts and/or exemptions for:

  • Tolls paid the same day on bridges and tunnels
  • Some types of for-hire vehicles

Once the TMRB recommends the toll rates, TBTA would then follow its process for setting tolls, which includes a public hearing. That final decision on tolls would include:

  • The toll for each type of vehicle
  • How and when the tolls would change
  • Any other credits, discounts and/or exemptions

Traffic Mobility Review Board

The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) Board establishes the TMRB and names its chair and five members. As established by the MTA Reform and Traffic Mobility Act (the Act), one member will be recommended by the Mayor of the City of New York, one member will reside in the Metro-North Railroad region, and one member will reside in the Long Island Rail Road region.

The TMRB was approved by the TBTA Board on July 27, 2022 and consists of the following six members:  

  • Carl Weisbrod, Chair of the TMRB 
  • John Banks, President Emeritus of the Real Estate Board of New York
  • Scott Rechler, Chair of the Regional Plan Association and Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of RXR
  • John Samuelsen, International President of the Transport Workers Union
  • Elizabeth Velez, President and Principal of the Velez Organization
  • Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City

WATCH: Learn about the Central Business District Tolling Program

Why New York City Needs Central Business District Tolling

Congestion is bad for businesses, residents, and visitors.

Before COVID-19, 700,000 vehicles entered the Central Business District (CBD) each day. That was more than 255 million vehicles each year. Average traffic speeds were only 7 miles per hour in the CBD, and even slower in Midtown. While traffic dropped to 10% of normal levels in 2020, it has since rebounded to close to where it was before COVID-19 began. This congestion is bad for the economy, the environment, and the quality of life for people who live in the CBD, as well as for commuters, business owners, and visitors.

Congestion makes travel slow and unreliable. Traffic increases the time it takes to get somewhere, reduces bus service quality, and costs businesses, since workers cannot do as much when they spend a lot of time in traffic.

Quick Facts on Congestion

  • Congestion has clogged Manhattan streets for decades, with approximately 700,000 vehicles, pre-pandemic, entering the CBD daily, according to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. 
  • While traffic dropped to just 10% of normal levels in 2020 due to the pandemic, it has since rebounded to over 90% of pre-pandemic levels, far higher than the mass transit ridership rebound.
  • In 2018, the Partnership for New York City estimated that congestion in the New York City region would cost businesses, commuters, and residents $100 billion over five years. 
  • New York City was ranked as the worst among U.S. cities in terms of congestion by the 2021 INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard. 
  • New Yorkers lose 102 hours on average each year due to traffic congestion, which costs them $1,595 in lost productivity and other costs. 
  • Between 2010 and 2019, average travel speeds in the Manhattan CBD decreased 22%, from 9.1 mph to 7.1 mph. 

Our Public Transit Needs Investment

Public transit is important to the New York City metropolitan region. Before COVID-19, more than 75% of trips into the area south of 60th Street in Manhattan were made by bus, subway, commuter railroad, or ferry. The millions of people living in the New York City metropolitan region need easy transit options. Problems in the system cause people to be late to work; miss medical, school, and other important appointments; and to spend more time away from family.

MTA ridership had increased nearly 50% in the 20 years before COVID-19. At the same time, the money invested in the MTA for public transit improvements fell by 8%. The MTA needs a regular source of money for its 2020-2024 Capital Plan, which identifies $52.0 billion of investments in the region’s subways, buses, and commuter railroads. The revenue from the Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program would help maintain and modernize the existing transportation system, and help provide more capacity, reliability, and accessibility. It would also help low-income and minority communities.

After paying the cost of running the CBD Tolling Program, 80% of the money would be used to improve and modernize New York City Transit, which runs the subway system and buses; 10% would go to Long Island Rail Road, and 10% to Metro-North Railroad. A regular source of money from the CBD Tolling Program that can be used only for subway, bus, and commuter railroad projects would help make them all faster, more accessible, and more reliable for everyone.
 

Benefits of Central Business District Tolling Program

The Central Business District Tolling Program could deliver many benefits for New York City, including:

  • Reduced traffic in and around the Manhattan CBD
  • A regular source of money to improve and modernize MTA subway, bus, and commuter railroads
  • Better air quality
  • Promoting equity by providing expanded access to the transit system
  • Reduced travel times

The Proposed Central Business District Tolling Zone

The Central Business District Tolling Zone would cover 60th Street in Manhattan and all the roadways south of 60th Street, except for:

  • FDR Drive
  • West Side Highway/9A, Battery Park Underpass, and any surface roadway portions of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel connecting to West Street

Contact Us

The formal public comment period on the Central Business District Tolling Program Environmental Assessment is now closed. Comments were received for a period of 45 days starting on August 10th. Only those comments submitted by September 23, 2022, will be made part of the Project record. 

EmailCBDTP@mtabt.org

Mail: CBD Tolling Program, 2 Broadway, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10004

Phone: 646-252-7440

Fax: 212-504-3148 [Attn: The CBD Tolling Program Team]

View down and avenue filled with vehicles
Congestion on Manhattan streets

Environmental Justice Communities

Federal agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), are required to consider whether their proposed actions would result in disproportionately high and adverse effects on minority and/or low-income populations (also known as environmental justice populations) and, if any, to address as appropriate. This includes providing opportunities for full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities.

The United States Department of Transportation and FHWA essentially define minority and low-income individuals and populations for this purpose as follows:

  • Minority: a person who is Black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
  • Low-Income: a person whose household income is at or below the United States Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines. For the purpose of the Central Business District Tolling Program (CBD Tolling Program) Environmental Assessment, low-income persons were considered those in households with incomes up to twice the Health and Human Services poverty guidelines.
  • Population: any readily identifiable group of minority and/or low-income persons who live in geographic proximity, and, if circumstances warrant, geographically dispersed/transient persons of those groups who will be similarly affected.

The New York Metropolitan region is home to a diverse population and includes many communities and neighborhoods where minority and low-income populations live and work. The study area for the Central Business District Tolling Program (CBD Tolling Program) includes New York City; Long Island; counties north of New York City; portions of southern Connecticut; and portions of northern and central New Jersey.

  • 52% of the study area identify themselves as minority 
  • 28% of the study area identify themselves as non-White, non-Hispanic
  • 15% identify themselves as Black, non-Hispanic
  • 10% identify themselves as Asian, non-Hispanic
  • 24% identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino
  • 27% of the study area are low-income (at twice the Federal poverty threshold)

Public outreach activities are designed to include coordination with elected officials and community leaders; environmental justice (EJ) webinar-style community meetings; and establishment of an Environmental Justice Technical Advisory Group and an Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Group.

The purpose of the Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Group is to provide a forum for people within the EJ communities who would like to share concerns and ideas, or want to know more about particular issues. The purpose of the Environmental Justice Technical Advisory Group is to help identify concerns of those in EJ communities, propose mitigation if needed, and help circulate information as widely as possible. 

Nine virtual meetings focusing on EJ communities have been held, three each for relevant counties in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as were three meetings of the Environmental Justice Technical Advisory Group and two meetings of the Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Group. 

Prior public meetings provided individuals and stakeholder groups with opportunities to:

  • Receive information about the proposed CBD Tolling Program and its potential positive and negative impacts on EJ communities.
  • Comment on the proposed program.
  • Learn about Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Groups and opportunities to directly serve/suggest other participants.
     

Congestion Pricing Success Stories

Other major cities have congestion pricing. All have been successful.

According to the FHWA Lessons Learned from International Experience in Congestion Pricing Final Report:

Stockholm

  • 25% reduction in traffic congestion
  • 25% increase in average speeds
  • 10-14% drop in carbon dioxide pollution
  • 6-9% increase in use of public transportation

London

  • 25% drop in congestion in central London
  • 30% increase in average speeds
  • 20% drop in carbon dioxide pollution

Singapore

  • 24% drop in weekday traffic entering the Central Business Zone
  • Increase in average travel speeds

Sources:

Federal Highway Administration (2008, August). Lessons Learned from International Experience in Congestion Pricing

INRIX (2021). 2021 Global Traffic Scorecard.

NYCDOT. August 2019. New York City Mobility Report

Partnership for New York City (2018, January). $100 Billion Cost of Traffic Congestion in Metro New York

U.S. Census Bureau,  American Community Survey (ACS) 2015–2019 5-Year Estimates.

Agency logos of Federal Highway Administration, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York State Department of Transportation, and New York City Department of Transportation

Contact Us

The formal public comment period on the Central Business District Tolling Program Environmental Assessment is now closed. Comments were received for a period of 45 days starting on August 10th. Only those comments submitted by September 23, 2022, will be made part of the Project record. 

Email: CBDTP@mtabt.org

Mail: CBD Tolling Program, 2 Broadway, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10004

Phone: 646-252-7440

Fax: 212-504-3148 [Attn: The CBD Tolling Program Team]