New York City is adopting a model applied in several European cities to introduce America’s first congestion pricing plan.

The program, known as the Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program, aims to keep drivers off the roadways in Manhattan’s central business district.

NYC’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) claims the price-gouging program will “lead to safer streets, cleaner air, and better transit throughout the region.”

The plan released by New York officials would force most drivers to pay $15 to enter Manhattan’s central business district (Manhattan below 60th Street).

“Under the plan, passenger car drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street during daytime hours would be charged $15 electronically, while the fee for small trucks would be $24 and large trucks would be charged $36,” Fortune reports.

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Unsurprisingly, the MTA says the program would help the city achieve its climate goals.

The MTA’s congestion pricing program is another way to extort money from working-class Americans.

“Fewer cars in the central business district will reduce emissions and help New York achieve its ambitious climate goals. Less stop-and-go traffic will also be safer for pedestrians and bikers. Drivers who pay the toll will spend less time sitting in traffic, and other vehicles — such as buses or emergency vehicles — will be able to move faster,” the MTA writes.

“The program will also raise revenue to fund $15 billion for critical transit projects, such as upgrading to the signaling system, accessibility improvements, and expanding access to the transit system,” the MTA added.

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The MTA writes:

The Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program will be the first congestion pricing program in the United States. The Environmental Assessment, which the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration required, looked at the environmental effects of the program. Congestion pricing has helped other cities around the world and we believe it will 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 will also make it faster to travel and improve air quality.

Vehicles that enter or remain in the Central Business District will be tolled. The toll will be paid using an E-ZPass. If you do not have an E-ZPass, toll bills will be mailed to the address of the registered vehicle owner and are paid using Tolls by Mail.

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Here’s the breakdown of how the tolls will be set:

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

Commitments made in the FInal EA will be included:

  • Taxis and FHVs will not be tolled more than once daily
  • The overnight toll will be at or below 50% of the peak toll from at least 12-4am
  • There will be a discount for frequent low-income drivers

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

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

Fortune reports:

Cities such as London and Stockholm have similar programs in place, but New York City is poised to become the first in the U.S.

Revenue from the tolls, projected to be roughly $1 billion annually, would be used to finance borrowing to upgrade the city’s mass transit systems.

The proposal from the Traffic Mobility Review Board, a New York state body charged with advising the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the tolls, includes discounts for travel between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. and for frequent low-income drivers. Government vehicles such as municipal garbage trucks would be exempt.

Taxi drivers would pass a $1.25 surcharge onto their passengers for entering the congestion zone, while app-based ride-hail passengers would see a $2.50 surcharge.

Officials say that in addition to funding needed transit improvements, congestion pricing will result in improved air quality and reduced traffic.

“Absent this we’re going to choking in our own traffic for a long time to come and the MTA is not going to have the funds necessary to provide quality service,” Carl Weisbrod, chair of the traffic review board, said in presenting the report to MTA officials.

Opponents include taxi drivers, who had pushed for a full exemption.

Small business owners in New York City said the congestion pricing plan could price them out of existence.

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“To have this congestion pricing shoved down our throats, it’s going to be a death blow. It’s going to be a death blow to small businesses like ours,” said Julio Pena, owner of Il Posto Accanto restaurant on the Lower East Side, according to CBS News New York.

“It’s really going to kill us as small business owners,” Pena said.

From CBS News New York:

He said his problem is how to make ends meet, when he gets 10 deliveries a day from trucks that will have to pay a steep congestion fee to get to his restaurant, fees that will be passed along to him and then passed along to customers, who, if they don’t live in the Central Business District, will have to pay a fee to just to get there.

“I mean, our sanitation company … I can’t wait for them to tell us they’re going to charge us more because their trucks are going to have to pay a fee to come into the city,” Pena said.

Pena on Monday joined Rep. Mike Lawler of Rockland County and Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey to slam the MTA plan. Gottheimer offered startling figures about just how much a single truck will have to pay to make deliveries in the Central Business District.

“We think it’s about nearly $30,000 a year, what they’re taking, for a truck to come in and out every day because the tolls, plus the congestion tax. It’s a fortune. You can imagine what it’s going to do. The cost is going to be on these small businesses,” Gottheimer said.

Both congressmen called the MTA plan a “money grab” to raise a billion dollars that has little to do with congestion.

“If you stop all the congestion then I guess you’re not raising a billion dollars, so clearly it’s not about the congestion. It’s about getting the money,” Lawler said.

Lawler also charged that if the MTA was truly interested in congestion there are many things it could do, including, “stop narrowing the lanes and the number of lanes on all these cross streets.”

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