From 2009, if all goes to plan, New York will run a three-year cordon-based congestion charging pilot - the first in the USUpon accession, US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters signalled her intention to continue her predecessor Norman Mineta's initiative to specifically target road congestion. And, with initiatives such as the
Expressions of interest
The New York City Economic Development Corporation has announced that it has received a total of 30 responses to a Request for Expressions of Interest. The following companies responded openly:
Responses from the following were marked business sensitive:
In reality, most of the money awarded to New York will be spent on transit and bus facilities (see Sidebar, 'New York and the Urban Partnership Program') and legislative approval for the scheme is needed at the local level by the end of March. If that fails to occur then the grant money goes back whence it came; the funding is discretionary and may not be available later.
Nevertheless, Duvall remains ebullient.
New York's integrated approach is, he continues, "a powerful mix of ideas" and the boldest scheme put forward under the Program.
As in Stockholm, congestion pricing will be piloted in an attempt to give citizens a better feel for what is involved and garner wider support. New York's trial will last significantly longer than that in the Swedish capital, however. It is scheduled to run for three years.
It has been suggested that the barrierfree congestion zone might be based on the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system, which is in use on the US's Eastern Seaboard from Virginia to Maine, and automatic license plate recognition.
Charges will apply between 06.00hrs and 18.00hrs.
The proposed fees are $8 for cars/commercial vehicles and $21 for trucks entering or leaving the zone. Travel within the zone will be priced at $5.50 for trucks and $4 for other vehicles. Vehicles will be charged once per day.
As with other cities around the world which operate cordon?type schemes there will be exemptions: transit buses, emergency vehicles, taxis/for?hire vehicles, those with handicapped license plates.Several other solutions have been suggested in the responses to the Request for Expressions of Interest (it was announced in mid-November that 30 such responses had been received, see Sidebar, 'Expressions of Interest').
"In fact," says Patrick DeCorla-Souza, Team Leader of the
"We're asking for a 6.3 per cent reduction in Vehicles Miles Travelled in the Congestion Priced Zone. That's going from a baseline average on a weekday of 4,478,000. With an $8 Congestion Charge for passenger vehicles and $21 for trucks, we estimate that the total VMT would fall by 301,000 miles.
"That 6.3 per cent limit is lower than that set by New York's Mayor. However it corresponds to a significant reduction in congestion, because the relationship is not linear. We expect about 1.4 million vehicles trips per day in the congestion charging zone." The trial, notes DeCorla-Souza, is expected to start at the end of March 2009.
New York and the Urban Partnership Program
New York's proposed congestion pricing programme was first unveiled on 22 April 2007 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced PlaNYC 2030, his vision for the city's long?term sustainability out to 2030.
PlaNYC included 16 proposed transport initiatives, of which congestion pricing was the only one which had to be approved by the State Legislature.
The city applied under the USDOT's Urban Partnership Program, which was looking to allocate money to cities willing to enter into Urban Partnership Agreements in order to fight congestion through the 'Four Ts': Tolling, Transit, Telecommuting and Technology. In June this year, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters said that of the nine cities applying for money under the initiative New York was the farthest along in its planning, and on 14 August it was awarded US$354 million.
This was the largest of the five grants awarded cities, however only $10.4 million is allocated launching the congestion charging programme. A further $2 million is allocated for research and rest will fund transport infrastructure and services.
The pilot is intended to run for three years, decision at the end by the City and State as to whether to make it permanent; that could happen within 18 months of final legislative approval.
Geographically, the congestion zone is defined Manhattan Island south of 86th Street. There are number of exempted roads and drivers who use toll crossings to pass into or out of the zone will be charged the difference between the toll and the charge."We need to demonstrate the concept in order to gain public acceptability. There is a precedent - on SR91 back in 1995, demonstrations in the express lanes led to HOT lanes being adopted across the US.
Had those demonstration lanes not been put in place we'd have struggled to get past public resistance. "New York, Seattle and San Francisco will all price existing lanes in order to prove that significant improvements in travel times are possible in combination with other initiative such as mass transit.
"To put that in context, Manhattan," he continues, "has the single largest transit system in the US. It carries over 50 per cent of transit riders in New York; over 80 per cent of those who travel in and out of Manhattan do so using public transit." DeCorla-Souza's point highlights the classic chicken-and-egg situation of value pricing or demand restraint: public transport improvements are essential if such schemes are going to be publicly acceptable and therefore politically viable.
USDOT has just pledged $1.3 billion to the $4.9 billion project to build the Second Avenue Subway line. Big improvements to the bus system are also planned.The building of the long-awaited Second Avenue subway project will be going ahead regardless of the congestion pricing pilot, according to officials from the USDOT's
The overall intention with the pilots, says DeCorla-Souza, is to create "exemplary" reference projects. They will show just what is achievable in ideal circumstances. That improvements to public transport are being funded up front is perhaps evidence of this.
"New York's solution will be a cordon scheme," he adds. "The need or solution elsewhere might be different. As the technology matures, for example, we might look to price more than just access routes and migrate charging onto arterials. There's a $16.5 million study funded by Congress which is currently looking at distance-based charging. With the Highway Trust Fund due to go into deficit in 2009, we're looking 20 years ahead and trying to deal with the effect that high-efficiency and alternatively powered vehicles will have."