What to Know
- MTA Chairman Pat Foye is confident the Trump administration will approve congestion pricing in New York City
- The city last year became the first in the nation to approve a congestion toll to help reduce traffic, cut pollution and boost mass transit
- The earliest the tolls could begin is Dec. 31, 2020
Nine months before a drive to Manhattan is scheduled to cost commuters more money, the MTA still hasn't received approval from the federal government on its congestion pricing -- but MTA Chairman Pat Foye is confident the deal will go through.
The transit agency stands to gain $15 billion from New York City becoming the first big city in the U.S. to implement a congestion toll to help reduce traffic, cut pollution and boost mass transit. But for that to happen, the Federal Highway Administration says it needs to make sure the plan complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
After multiple meetings, a spokesperson for the FHWA says the federal agency has not received all the information needed from the MTA to proceed with the review and eventual approval process.
However, the MTA disputed the federal government's statement, saying in part, "we have yet to receive direction from FHWA on how they would like the MTA to proceed even as we have had over a dozen meetings and provided every request for supplemental information."
At a news conference about the MTA performance on Tuesday, Chairman Foye echoed the agency's statement, telling reporters "congestion pricing will happen" and that he doesn't believe the Trump administration will veto congestion pricing.
"All we can do is fight as hard as we can," Foye said.
New York state legislators approved a conceptual plan last year for the tolling system. What is at stake for about 717,000 vehicles entering Manhattan daily from anywhere south of Central Park could be around $10-15 added on to existing toll charges.
Drivers say they already pay too much money to come into the city and they are skeptical about congestion pricing. "Right now traffic is crazy. And then charging people to come to Manhattan, I don’t know," said Francisco Soto of Midtown.
FDR Drive and West Side Highway are exempt from the congestion pricing and those who live in the congestion zone, as well as those who make less than $60,000 a year, are also expected to be exempt from the fees.
A big proponent of the plan is departing NYC Transit boss Andy Byford.
In his resignation, Byford thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature for "having the courage to pass congestion pricing and get the funds that I know will deliver a capital plan that is unprecedented.”
New York still has to work out all the details of the plan, which would use a network of license plate readers to bill vehicles for using surface roads. There's no word on when the MTA would start building the readers.
If the FHWA approves the plan, the earliest the tolls could begin is Dec. 31, 2020.