New York takes decisive step to become the first city in the United States to implement a toll to be able to circulate through the most congested area of Manhattan. It will cover from the financial district, south of the island, to 60th Street, where Central Park begins. The objective is twofold: reduce traffic and raise $ 1 billion that will go to repair the subway and the local train network.
The Legislative Chamber of New York and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo approved a $ 175 million budget on Sunday for this and other measures. It is now a concept approved, and details such as the price should be defined and the system will not go into effect until January 2021. The pact of the state legislature comes two years after Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his proposal. Before he had to overcome the opposition of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who advocated meeting the needs ofIncentive of the metro with a tax on the rich.
The plan comes forward after a decade of discussions, thanks to the fact that it was incorporated as part of the budget program for the 2019-2020 financial year that starts on April 1. The package includes in exchange additional money for public education and a ban is also imposed on plastic bags in supermarkets. The governor parks for the moment the idea of legalizing marijuana.
If the plan goes its course, New York drivers will be the first of a large city that will have to pay to enter the center, as they already do in London, Stockholm or Singapore with similar programs that reduced traffic. Currently, the average speed in the area that will cover the toll is 4.7 miles per hour (7.5 kilometers). It's a little faster than walking.
"The buses do not move. Taxis do not move, "Cuomo justified in trying to give the final push to the plan," if we want the city to continue growing, it is essential to be able to move. " Having a functional transportation system, the Democrat insists, is a vital political and logistical issue. There is talk of applying a toll of about 11.5 dollars for utilities and 25 for trucks.
Subway and commuter trains
The toll will be electronic. The money collected, about 1,000 million, will go to a "closed box" destined exclusively to modernize the transport infrastructure. 80% of the funds will be concentrated in the public transport network of New York City. The rest will be shared equally between the commuter rail service that serves the Long Island communities and the suburbs north of the metropolis.
Now a panel of six people will be created that will determine the price of the toll and how it will be applied. The objective is to ensure that the system generates the necessary funds to finance the repairs of a transport network that is on the verge of collapse. But at the same time they want to treat drivers fairly, to avoid paying twice when they cross bridges and tunnels to access Manhattan.
Residents of the restricted area will be eligible for credits as well as drivers with incomes below $ 60,000 per year. Circling the round that runs along the island -FDR Drive and West Side Highway- will be excluded from the toll. Drivers will only pay once a day and it will be modulated according to the density of traffic in the area. Taxis and other alternative transportation services already charge an extra fee of $ 2.75.
The balance is not easy and the measure creates controversy. Eddie Hernandez rejects the idea and doubts that the plan will work. He has a small business in the suburbs that serves the city. "I do not see people leaving downtown," he says as he unloads his van, "because they need to make money." He expects the final formulation to include a discount for what he already pays for crosses the George Washington Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel.
The risk, says economist Charles Komanoff, one of the advisors to Governor Andrew Cuomo in defining the plan, is that by excluding drivers the collection capacity is reduced. The toll, however, could encourage drivers like Erin to completely abandon the idea of getting around Manhattan by car. You already avoid it whenever you can, using public transport.
The founders of Lyft, the great rival of Uber, also support the establishment of the toll. They believe that it is a model that works, is efficient, generates resources for infrastructures, reduces pollution and, especially, streamlines movements by reducing traffic density. This saves time on journeys and, they add, improves the economic performance of the entire city.
The toll in the center works like airplane tickets, says John Rennie, of the school of public policy at the University of Baltimore. "Raising the price," he says, "forces the user to think about the cost of making the trip and to evaluate the alternatives." "It has been shown that price affects behavior," he adds, "schedules, routes or travel are changed."