On May 5, 2023, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the release of the Final EA and draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the CBD Tolling Program. The official 30-day public availability period for the Final EA and draft FONSI for the Project will be May 12, 2023 through June 12, 2023.
The 30-day public availability period for the Final EA and draft FONSI gives the public the opportunity to review changes made as a result of the input received during the formal public comment period conducted from August 10, 2022 through September 23, 2022. We appreciate your interest in the CBD Tolling Program - for more information about the Final EA, a good place to start is the Foreword, which identifies changes and how to find them, the location of responses to all the public comments, and more.
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 Program 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.
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. 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
- Effect on the public
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 among the worst of U.S. cities in terms of congestion by the 2022 INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard.
- New Yorkers lose 117 hours on average each year due to traffic congestion, which costs them $1,976 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
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 for the Environmental Assessment process were designed to include coordination with elected officials and community leaders; environmental justice webinar-style community meetings; and the 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 environmental justice 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 environmental justice communities, propose mitigation if needed, and help circulate information as widely as possible.
Nine virtual meetings focusing on environmental justice communities were held; three each for relevant counties in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as were eight meetings of the Environmental Justice Technical Advisory Group and four meetings of the Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Group.
For information on the effects on environmental justice communities and populations, please see Chapter 17, "Environmental Justice" of the Final EA.
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:
- 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
- 25% drop in congestion in central London
- 30% increase in average speeds
- 20% drop in carbon dioxide pollution
- 24% drop in weekday traffic entering the Central Business Zone
- Increase in average travel speeds
Federal Highway Administration (2008, August). Lessons Learned from International Experience in Congestion Pricing.
INRIX (2022). 2022 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.
Get Updates and Contact Info
Contact FHWA Directly
Mail: FHWA - NY Division, RE: CBDTP, Leo W. O'Brien Federal Building, 11A, Clinton Ave, Suite 719, Albany, NY 12207