A recent study conducted by the Partnership for New York City has found that traffic congestion will cost the city $100 billion by 2023. These figures are in line with a report published by the city’s Independent Budget Office in October, which found that subway delays are costing the city $864,000 a day in lost work time. Traffic congestion will have a similar effect on the city, with traffic congestion having increased by 53 percent since the last study conducted in 2006. This increase in congestion has effectively pushed the cost of congestion to $20 billion per year in the form of travel time, operating cost, excess fuel and revenue lost by industry.
According to the study, those who work in Queens and Manhattan are likely to be the most affected by traffic delays, with the average commuter losing between $1,500 to $1,900 per year.
Addressing Congestion with a Pricing Plan
With congestion predicted to cost the city billions of dollars, Governor Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel is working on creating a plan for congestion pricing in Manhattan. Under the current proposal, vehicles driving below 60th Street would be charged $11.52 for cars, $25.24 for trucks and somewhere between $2 and $5 for taxis and other for-hire vehicles.
The congestion pricing plan has been tweaked in an effort to address concerns regarding tolls on the East River bridges. Currently, cars entering Manhattan on the East River bridges can bypass the congestion pricing zone by merging directly onto the FDR and taking the 60th Street exit. It is also possible to bypass tolling in a similar way on the Brooklyn and Queensboro Bridges, while the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges only feed onto roads that lead to congestion pricing zones.
The current proposal calls for rolling out the congestion pricing plan in waves, with fees for taxes and for-hire vehicles starting as early as next year and fees for trucks and cars starting in 2020. The FixNYC, however, advocates making improvements to the public transit system before asking them to abandon their vehicles for public transportation options.
Altogether, the congestions pricing plan could bring $1.5 billion of income to the city per year, with the money collected going toward funding repairs for the city’s public transit system. The action plan for making these improvements will cost an estimated $836 million with Governor Cuomo pledging $429 million of state funding toward the plan.
Protected Bike Lanes Coming to Midtown
To further assist with traffic congestion, Midtown will soon be getting protected crosstown bike lanes running east on 26th Street and west on 29th Street. These bike paths will be the first protected bike paths to extend an entire stretch between the East and Hudson rivers. The first set of these new lanes will run 1.8 miles on east 26th Street and west on 29th Street, with the possibility of adding an eastbound lane on 52nd Street and westbound on 55th Street. These lanes would be centered between a row of parked cards on one side and a sidewalk curb on the other. The bike lanes on 26th an 29th streets are expected to cost less than $500,000 to complete.