Congestion pricing gains popularity during the pandemic

Are you ready to pay $25 to take a truck into downtown New York City? If the city has its way, that might be happening soon.

Congestion pricing, long used in major European cities, continues to gain momentum in the United States. New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are three metro areas researching congestion pricing legislation to varying degrees.

If enacted, congestion pricing can curb the use of vehicles in heavy-traffic areas while also helping the environment. Due to the drop-in mass transit ridership, congestion pricing could also get people back on subways, trains, and buses rather than having to pay extra money to travel to work.

Supporters of the plans say that while traffic dropped during the pandemic’s early stages, it has been on the rebound. With people going back to work and getting vaccinated, they believe traffic will only continue to rise while causing more congestion.

What is congestion pricing?

Congestion pricing is a system where fees are charged to drivers if they want to take their vehicle through certain areas or roadways at certain times. The areas include central business districts during rush hours (with reduced fees or no fees at other times of the day).

Congestion pricing is popular in Europe. Supporters say it reduces the traffic demand and helps the environment.

New York is getting close

While the United States has several congestion pricing initiatives being discussed, New York City’s plan is the furthest along and seen as the first one inside a major metro area.

New York wants to tax vehicles that enter Manhattan south of 60th Street. No prices have been set. However, past proposals would charge cars $12-$14 and $25 for trucks during peak hours. During off-hours, the prices would be less.

Vehicles were supposed to start getting taxed in January 2021. However, an environmental review still must be conducted. Once that’s finished, the city can set up the program, which will require signs, cameras and other infrastructure.

 San Francisco and Los Angeles could be next

In San Francisco, drivers may have to pay $14 to enter the downtown area. The city would charge the fee based on income and other factors.

In Los Angeles, the congestion pricing research is part of an overall traffic reduction plan.

Commuter benefits will be able to help commuters as they adjust from taking cars when congestive pricing begins. Employees will save money to use for mass transit, rideshares, and qualified parking costs. They can save up to $270 per month. Businesses can also save by having to pay less payroll tax. If you’d like to explore commuter benefits, visit www.commuterbenefits.com to learn more.

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