Driving in New York set to get enormously costly as officials battle gridlocks

  • An additional toll to enter Manhattan is likely to encourage use of public transport options while having a positive impact on air quality levels.
New York
File photo of cars approaching the Hugh Carey tunnel linking Brooklyn to Manhattan, in New York. (AP)
New York
File photo of cars approaching the Hugh Carey tunnel linking Brooklyn to Manhattan, in New York.

New York has long had a very serious problem pertaining to traffic jams and gridlocks. And despite extremely high parking fees in public spaces, relatively high toll for entry into the city and strict penalties for any traffic-related rule violation, the situation has not improved much in recent times. Officials here, however, refuse to give up and now have a plan that could make drivers pay $15 for entry into the posh Manhattan area.

Drivers making their way into Manhattan may have to soon pay this toll amount and those not registered in the regional toll collection program, the charge could be higher still at $22.50. This would be in addition to toll of $13.38 already paid on the Lincoln Tunnel or $17.63 paid if coming in via Holland Tunnel.

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The larger objective of imposing an additional toll is to discourage the use of private vehicles within Manhattan and promote public transit options. It is believed that if fewer cars enter the area, it would lead to fewer traffic snarls while also having a positive impact on the air quality. Of course, the additional cash flow - expected to be at around $1 billion - is a major incentive too and it is reported that the amount would be utilised for improving the subway and bus systems in the city.

Congestion fees system across the world

If New York does implement the congestion fees for motorists wanting to enter Manhattan, it would be the first US city to have such a fees. Around the world, however, there are several cities that have imposed congestion fees and the list includes Singapore, Milan, London and Stockholm.

There is some degree of resistance whenever such a congestion fees is planned with many asking for exemptions. Those involved in emergency services and driving in to work in their private vehicles, for instance, request to be exempted. In New York in particular, teachers working in public schools are also expected to ask to be exempted.

The other possible impact could be on business owners in Manhattan who fear that a congestion fees would lower the footfall at their establishments.

(With inputs from AP)

First Published Date: 29 Feb 2024, 12:07 PM IST

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