by Katherine Peinhardt
New York City’s streets are on the cusp of a great change. With traffic clogging city streets and public transit suffering from continued disinvestment, a natural solution is to put a price on driving into the busiest parts of the city with a robust congestion pricing plan. Congestion pricing is not only an issue of traffic; it presents a huge opportunity for the city to move forward on its ambitious climate goals, as the transportation sector accounts for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City. For this reason, 350NYC stands in support of a comprehensive congestion pricing plan for New York City.
Congestion pricing is not a new idea: Cities like Stockholm have implemented these types of plans, to great success. Now, Governor Cuomo’s FixNYC plan
has proposed a surcharge on for-hire vehicles, and would set a price on vehicles driving in a congestion zone in Manhattan that spans from 60th Street southward. It is projected to raise more than $1 billion dollars, to be re-invested in our city’s ailing mass transit systems.
As in the past, this initiative to begin the fair tolling of the cars, trucks, cabs, and other for-hire vehicles still faces political obstacles. But its time has come. If congestion pricing is to become a reality, now is the time for action by the governor and NY state legislature — the budget to be passed on March 31 must include provisions for congestion pricing. If New York City is to remain a climate leader, it is time for it to start thinking from the streets up.
Katherine Peinhardt is a 350NYC Steering Committee Member