MTA to begin congestion pricing June 30

April 29, 2024
The congestion pricing program will provide $15 billion in funding for critical transit investments.

Central Business District Tolling, the country’s first congestion pricing program, will begin in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Congestion Relief Zone on June 30. MTA notes Manhattan below 60 St. is one of the most congested districts in the United States, with average traffic speeds of just 7 mph. 

The agency says 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 daily on the MTA. 

“Five years after the Legislature made congestion pricing New York State (NYS) 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 (NYC) Transit is ready: We have added subway service during the past year, with more enhancements coming soon and we are speeding up our buses with more camera enforcement,” said NYC 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."  

MTA notes 80 percent of the revenue generated will go to capital improvements on NYC Transit subways and buses, 10 percent to Metro-North Railroad and 10 percent to Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). 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.  

The agency has 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 and email campaigns, which builds on months of engagement and hundreds of public meetings during 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. 

 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: 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: 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, NYS 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 has been installed across 108 locations and during the past year, the MTA has rolled out service enhancements that will complement the start of congestion pricing: 

  • Subways: NYC Transit is operating 1,200 additional subway trains every week with increases that took effect over several months in 2023 on the C, G, J, M, N, R, 1 and 6 lines. Six more lines –  the B, D, J, M, 3, 5 – will receive increases in service in June.  
  • Buses: 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 six percent in ridership since launch. In coordination with NYC Department of Transportation, implementation of busways has led to 27 percent increases in bus speed and up to 60 percent increases when combined with other Select Bus Service treatments. 
  • LIRR: With the opening of Grand Central Madison, systemwide service increased an overall 41 percent, including more than 77,000 more trains a year, about a 35 percent increase at eastern Queens stations, a 30 percent increase in Brooklyn trains (a 55 percent increase in weekend service) and a 50 percent 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 2024, the railroad averaged an on-time performance of 98.9 percent. MTA notes March’s on-time performance was 98.9 percent, February’s on-time performance was 99.3 percent and service-delivered rate, a service reliability measure, was 99.9 percent.