➤ What the bill does: (i) Imposes a new toll on northbound or southbound vehicles crossing 60th St. in Manhattan, including where 60th St. would cross FDR Drive (if it extended east to the East River) and Route 9A (if it extended west to the Hudson River). Revenue will go to a special Move NY Mobility Fund (Topic 2.1) to pay for public transit and other transportation infrastructure improvements (Topic 3).
(ii) Sets the toll amount according to tolls charged for the Queens Midtown or Brooklyn Battery Tunnels but tells NYC-DOT to devise a variable, demand-based pricing schedule, so that actual tolls are higher at peak times and lower off-peak. This variable schedule must raise at least as much money, overall, as would be raised if the tolls were a constant price.
(iii) Directs that tolls be collected electronically (e.g., EZ Pass system) or by mail based on license-plate camera recordings. Cash can't be used, to avoid toll plaza slowdowns. Electronic toll rates will be much cheaper than tolls billed by mail.
(iv) Imposes tolls on all vehicles and vehicle classes with the following exceptions:
- Taxis and other for-hire vehicles (FHVs) that pay the surcharge described in subtopic 3 below are exempt from the tolls.
- Other commercial vehicles would pay for only one round-trip per 24-hour period, no matter how often they cross the tolled perimeter, so long as they are equipped with a commercial EZ Pass.
- Emergency vehicles and NYC government vehicles are exempt if the newly created Move NY Highway & Transit Authority (see Topic 4.1) sets these exemptions by rulemaking.
(v) Conditions the new tolls on TBTA reducing tolls on the 7 MTA bridges (subtopic 2), and withdraws NYSDOT's authority to continue perimeter tolling if TBTA doesn't maintain the required reduction;
➤ Rationale: The most recent traffic census (PDF Table 23A) shows that over 735,000 private vehicles enter the Manhattan hub every workday, for nearly 1.5 million total entries and exits. According to NYC-DOT, average traffic speed has decreased to about 8.5 mph. According to the NYC Comptroller (PDF), New Yorkers have the longest commuting time of any large U.S. city. Researchers calculate that the average NYC area commuter wastes 53 hours a year in congestion delays, and one study (PDF) estimates that congestion costs NYC about $16 billion a year in productive time lost during commuting. Also, this much traffic increases pollution and accidents, interferes with emergency vehicles, and slows public transit.
The predicted effects of the new tolls are 100,000 fewer auto trips daily into the congested area below 60th St., with average traffic speed increasing 15%-20%. The new revenue will be used to improve public transit and other transportation infrastructure (see Topics 2 and 3), which the City and State have been struggling to find the money for.