New Yorkers may soon have to contend with a congestion charging scheme for entry into Lower Manhattan south of 60th Street. Set for introduction on a three-year trial basis, the scheme aims to reduce air pollution, traffic volume and fund improvements in transportation as part of New York's PlanNYC strategy for 2030.
Joining Singapore, Stockholm and most notably London, the charge will be set significantly lower than its eight pound, sixteen dollar counterpart in the UK. A flat-rate of 8 dollars will be charged for entry into Lower Manhattan weekdays between 6am and 6pm, while travel exclusively within the zone will be priced at just 4 dollars during charging hours.
"People who were elected to represent the New Yorkers who live in our five boroughs are sick and tired of our streets being clogged with traffic," said proponent of the charge Speaker Ms. Quinn. "We’re sick and tired of the children who live in our city literally having to fight to be able to breathe, and that we see congestion pricing as a solution to this problem."
Down to the details and the car isn't so much an outlaw. Much like London, the zone will also incorporate charge-free through routes, namely FDR drive and the Eastern Bridges and their approaches. And for those presently using EZ-Pass on New York's toll-charged roads, entry and tolls will be capped at a daily rate of 8 dollars. License plates registered for the handicapped as well as licensed cabs would be exempt from the charge, while trucks are to be charged $21 for entry and $5.50 for journeys exclusively within the zone.
Approved by a vote of 30 to 20 in the city council, the policy split an otherwise unanimously-voting administration and now awaits approval at a state level, for which the suggestion was made that support would be given.
With numerous proposals for similar schemes in the world's cities, green-conscious mayors and urban planners will now look to New York as a further case study. Let's hope however that after rejecting the introduction of a 4 dollar charge last year, New Yorkers will see green more than they do red.