New York City is set to become the first in the United States to charge drivers entering the busiest areas of the city. Congestion pricing would put new electronic tolls in place, enabling the Metropolitan Transit Authority to raise money to modernize the city’s aging subway system.
Rick Geddes, founding director of the Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy and expert on infrastructure, says congestion pricing has proven successful in other cities around the world and could be beneficial to New York City on many levels.
“The move to this form of congestion pricing is a very good move for New York City. In the long run it will improve air quality, make pedestrians safer, and make the city much more livable.
“What New York City is proposing is a version of congestion pricing known as ‘cordon pricing,’ since a charge would be paid for entering the cordon at peak times. Congestion pricing is gaining traction around the world as traffic congestion skyrockets. Major cities such as Stockholm, London and Singapore have successfully adopted similar pricing schemes.
“The adoption of such a plan will create a variety of social benefits, including reduced congestion, health, environmental, and fuel savings. The plan would likely generate substantial revenue that can be used to improve the city’s aging transportation infrastructure.”
Oliver Gao, professor of civil and environmental engineering, is the director of Cornell University’s Center for Transportation, Environment, and Community Health. Gao developed a Post-Processing Software that the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council uses for its transportation conformity assessment required by the EPA.
"In theory, congestion pricing is one of the most effective strategies for congestion relief because it directly increases the out of pocket travel cost, which is the main factor reducing the utility of driving alone. It is, however, an unfavorable strategy from the public’s point of view, so there is political impedance against implementing it. Thus, there are few cases around the globe that have implemented congestion pricing at a large scale: Singapore, London and Stockholm. The other side effects of congestion pricing on how it might affect vehicle emission and public health, therefore, has not been fully investigated.
"Post-processing software (PPS) has the ability to be utilized to accurately answer how congestion pricing in NYC would affect GHG emissions, toxic air pollutant, and consequently public health and environmental justice issues. PPS also provides link-level emission rates, which we are going to use to run very fine scale air quality models to estimate individual exposure to air pollution. The finest scale analysis that can be used to scrutinize health and environmental justice impacts of transportation strategies including congestion pricing."