Tip Sheets

Milestone congestion pricing program has ‘conflicting objectives’

Media Contact

Kaitlyn Serrao

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has given final approval to a congestion pricing plan to toll vehicles entering part of Manhattan, even as the plan faces pending lawsuits and some concerns from New York City’s mayor.

Zakhary Mallett

Department of City and Regional Planning

Zakhary Mallett is an expert in transportation pricing and travel behavior at Cornell University. He says while this is a national milestone for financing transportation, the allocation of the revenue could prove problematic.

Mallett says:

“New York City's congestion pricing program is an important first-in-the-nation milestone in improving how we finance transportation. However, the program is not without shortcomings that other regions would be wise to avoid as they explore congestion pricing.

“Ideally, congestion pricing is not a budgeted revenue stream, but ‘extra’ revenue that gauges demand and informs transportation investments in the corridor from which the funds are generated. Yet, New York City's congestion pricing program was largely conceived as a revenue stream to fund transit capital improvements, while it has been promoted as a mechanism to reduce traffic. These are conflicting objectives; transit’s financial well-being will now depend on there being traffic we supposedly want to mitigate, because without it, there is no congestion pricing revenue.

“It will be important to monitor the long-term implications of this design to New York City’s congestion pricing program.”

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