Would Congestion Pricing Cause an Influx of Out-Of-Town Parkers on the UWS?

By Hannah Reale

New York state legislators are considering adding new tolls in Manhattan this year, charging drivers to enter midtown and below in an attempt to reduce traffic congestion. The “congestion pricing” plan would create a border in the city, beyond which the driver would have to pay the toll (a prior version of the plan made the toll $8). One border where the license tag readers would be placed is likely to be on the Upper West Side — either at the Southern end, around 60th Street, or as high as 96th Street.

Members of the Community Board 7 Transportation Committee expressed support for the plan at a meeting this week. Other major cities, such as London and Stockholm, have successfully implemented congestion pricing, although such measures are much less common in the United States. Advocacy group Move NY drafted a new plan in 2015 to implement congestion pricing in New York after a Bloomberg-supported plan failed in 2008.

Community Board committee co-chair Andrew Albert, who is also a member of the MTA board, said that congestion pricing would rake in an estimated $1.3-1.4 billion dollars for the MTA. The Move NY proposal says it could raise $1.5 billion, with just over $1.1 billion going to transit and $375 million going to road and bridge work.

But the Community Board committee also raised several concerns. Members discussed the possibility that people will drive right up to the border of the tolled section, park their cars, and then switch to public transportation to avoid paying the congestion charge every day, which would cause a rush for parking on the Upper West (and Upper East) Side. To alleviate that, the committee discussed the idea of park-and-ride spots, maybe out in Westchester or other out-of-borough locations, for people to directly access public transportation. They also talked about the possibility of issuing resident parking passes for people who live on the Upper West Side that they could obtain for a fee in order to legally park on the UWS. That might keep out-of-towners from coming in and taking up all the spots. Attempts to reach the people behind the Move NY plan were unsuccessful, as the email on their website was not working and no one responded to a Facebook message.

The committee resolved to send four points to Fix NYC, the state task force in charge of drafting the proposal: that the Community Board committee is strongly in favor of congestion pricing; that they wish for the barrier to be as far north as possible, while carefully considering its placement’s effect on traffic and nearby public transportation methods; that the money collected from the congestion charge be put in a lockbox for public transportation and infrastructure needs, and that CB7 be included in discussion of the proposal.

One attendee noted that the release of the draft’s proposal and its signing may occur too rapidly for the committee to weigh in, given that the committee only meets once a month.

Photo by Stròlic Furlàn.

NEWS | 50 comments | permalink
    1. Jay says:

      And where would they find all these mythical parking spots?

      This is a non-issue.

    2. dannyboy says:

      Yes it would.

    3. Sean says:

      They already park here.

    4. Davids says:

      What’s the plan for folks who live in the congestion pricing area? Will they have to pay a fee merely to go home?

      • Juan says:

        One would hope that those with non-commercial vehicles registered addresses within the congestion pricing area (and perhaps just outside of it) would be exempt from these fees. But maybe I am giving them too much credit for having thought all of this through.

    5. Dave says:

      So instead of working to eliminate the corruption within the MTA and waste of money caused by poorly managed/bid projects as eloquently outlined in the recent NY Times articles, let’s levy another tax on the residents, visitors and employers in the city? How about we incentivize the MTA to increase capacity and improve the reliability of the transit system so that people actually want to use it. Other major cities have cleaner and more reliable transit systems that can complete capital projects in one-third the time and at a 1/10th of the cost. Congestion pricing is not the answer and it is just going to lead to more wasted money by the MTA. Oh, and our roads and bridges need a heck of a lot more than $375 million to fix them. We cannot even get lane markers and crosswalks on West End!

      • pqdubya says:

        Couldnt agree more. I don’t own a car so rely entirely on public transportation. If the intent of the toll is to dissuade cars from entering mid town, presumably people would have to use the subway. It cant handle the current capacity. how on earth would it deal with this ??

    6. Carlos says:

      There are no natural borders so there is likely to be chaos near the area where an artificial border is set. During the transit strike in 2005 they set a border at 96th St below which you had to have multiple people in a car and there was a lot of traffic just about 96th as people looked for passengers so they could drive through.

      I know people from NJ who already park on the upper west side and take the subway to midtown to avoid paying for midtown garages, so this will just greatly exacerbate that problem. I think the idea of parking permits is a great one. Other major cities do this. The hours they are enforced can be limited but it will keep the limited existing parking available to residents.

      The other smaller side benefit of the parking permits is there are many people who live here but register their cars out of state to save money (I used to see a woman with Ohio plates who would be furious if someone took her spot during street cleaning) but they will have to register their cars in NY, which will help the state and city’s finances.

      The flip side of all of this is whether bridge and tunnel tolls already capture a lot of the same pool of money – don’t they already serve as fees for driving into Manhattan? Perhaps be tolling the entry points that aren’t already tolled (I’m looking at you, Brooklyn Bridge), the same goal can be met?

      • Sean says:

        Why is it that so many cars with NJ plates break every traffic rule on the UWS and get in to so many accidents with yellow cabs?

    7. Sid says:

      Parking spaces dont “belong” to UWS’ers or anyone else. If you can afford to live on the UWS and own a car, I’d wager you can afford to get a parking garage.

      • Rich says:

        This couldn’t be further from the truth. I own a co-op on the UWS and commute out to LI for work and I rely on street parking. I most definitely can NOT afford a garage.

        I love how people automatically assume they know everything about everyone else and how much money they have and how they should spend it.

        • OriginalMark says:

          Then your priorities are wrong.
          If you can afford a coop on the UWS and a car, you can afford garage space. You might have to cut back on dinners out, movies, the style of your car, your vacation, your preferred brand of alcohol, but you can afford it.
          If one can’t afford the neighborhood then one should consider relocating.
          You choose to prioritize other things over a parking garage. That is not for me or any of your neighbors to subsidize.

        • sheriffpony says:

          The true cost of a parking spot in Manhattan is on the order of $100k-$200k. If you rely on street parking, this is how much of an implicit subsidy you’re getting from the city and the people living in it for a series of life choices (choosing to work far from the city, preferring a particular, individual commute) that they really have no need or moral obligation to subsidize. I’ll go further and say that private cars parking on UWS are a nuisance to most people living and raising kids here. Being a nuisance should be charged accordingly.

          • Perry G says:

            How on earth would a parking spot be “implicitly” worth 100 – 200k when I pay 6K a year for a private garage.

            • Scott says:

              Perry, the true costs of parking on a street on the UWS are a bazillion dollars a day. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

          • pqdubya says:

            A “subsidy ” from the city?? Do we now live in the peoples republic of new York City where the Commissars decide where you live, park, eat etc. I guess we do – as DeBlasio said paraphrasing Marx “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” And of course abilities and needs to be determined by the elite bureaucrats. The streets do not belong the “The City” but to is residents.

            • Mark says:

              If you store your personal property on public space, you are being subsidized by tax paying citizens.
              It’s really not rocket science.

    8. Lisa says:

      Wait – so the government, salivating at the idea of a chance to mine another revenue source, is going to create a traffic and parking problem in the upper parts of the city. And in order to alleviate that problem, their proposed solution is to charge residents who live there yet another fee just so they can park in their own neighborhood. When it comes to fleecing the pockets of taxpayers, they really are expert thieves.

    9. Lon says:

      Commercial traffic, re: delivery trucks with your milk, butter, bread, etc. Will pass on their extra costs to the consumers. Another hidden tax on the residents.

      • Woody says:

        Wrong…for a small cost to enter the congestion-pricing zone, delivery trucks will be able to move around more easily and make more stops lowering labor costs, fuel expenses, and prices to consumers. It’s a huge benefit to anyone that needs to deliver in the zone.

    10. Lilly says:

      Non-resident in Fort Lee, NJ are not allowed to park on the sidewalk. Only resident with permit are allowed. UWS should apply the same rule.

    11. ST says:

      They do already park here, especially on a block with a subway entrance. This is addition to people who use our street for long term airport parking. Two tickets a week plus an Uber is cheaper than the airport. NYC visitors feom out of state also long term park. Enough is enough. Give residents parking and taxpayers parking privileges like they do in Chicago. And don’t complain that taxpayers aren’t entitled to have cars. We are more entitles than out-of-towners. Many people of good reasons why they have a car and need them for work or family.

    12. dannyboy says:

      Tolls were designed to repay the bonds that were issued to build the bridges and tunnels.

      Now they are being designed for behavior modification.

      Anyone see the difference?

    13. Native New Yorker says:

      The solution is simple. It is time to go to neighborhood parking restrictions. Live in the neighborhood you get a sticker. Anyone else parking is restricted to one hour. This is long overdue.

      • Woody says:

        How do you plan to pay for the army of people needed to enforce it? Do we really want to employ such a huge number of ticket-writing agents when municipal government is already so bloated with unproductive employees. The more government gets involved, the more they waste taxpayer money.

      • B.B. says:

        That only works in areas of low density housing. Do you have any idea how many people live in a particular area of Manhattan?

        Take CPW from 79th to 86th going over to say Columbus. There are scores if not hundreds of residents alone just in multi-family housing (apartment buildings).

        Then you have building staff; doormen, porters, concierges, superintendents, etc… where are they going to park?

    14. nycityny says:

      There already is a tremendous cost to driving in midtown – getting stuck in horrid traffic that has you going nowhere very slowly. That kept me away when I had a car in the city.

      Anybody willing to pay that price can have at it as far as I’m concerned. The city deserves no revenue from it.

    15. Geralen Silberg-Kupchik says:

      I already can’t find parking in the UWS cause of that the citi bike rack taking all the parking space. It’s really annoying.

      • Lord Of The Slice says:

        “citi bike rack taking all the parking space”

        somehow 40-50 bikes compared to 3 cars makes your ‘argument’ hold little to no water.

        try again, Capt Hyperbole.

      • jbucko says:

        Perhaps you should consider getting rid of the car and start riding a citi-bike; problem solved. You live in Manhattan. Just sayin…

    16. robert says:

      I have to laugh every time congestion pricing comes up. In cities and the US and overseas where this has been done it has “crashed” mass transit and in most places has been almost completely reversed. The $$$ earmarked for mass transit just never seem to end up there politicos “find” other pet projects for the $$$ Cuomo had the MTA send millions the state owned ski resort upstate. ALL of the plans have the car cutoff in Manhattan as 86 on the UES and UWS, as those are express subway stops and have highway access. Leaving the added pollution, traffic etc aside, in these two areas, just think of what additional 10’s of thousands of people will do to the transit system at our already crowded nodes. Before u say the $$$ will build out the system for more capacity, I suggest you think how long and massively over budget the 2nd ave subway was/is. The NY Times had a great article recently about the cost. The “parking decals” has been tried in other areas and has bombed, for example much of Boston does this. Nobody moves there cars unless they have to, this makes street cleaning, snow removal and deliveries to residents and daily commerce much harder.

    17. robert says:

      Sorry typo:
      “ALL of the plans have the car cutoff in Manhattan as 86 on the UES and UWS, as those are express subway stops and have highway access.”

      Should read:

      “ALL of the plans have the car cutoff in Manhattan as 86 on the UES and 96 on the UWS, as those are express subway stops and have highway access.”

    18. UWSer says:

      We should have resident stickers allowing us to park on side streets on the UWS (and other neighborhoods). Bridge and tunnel folks can pay for street parking on the main avenues or parking garages. Many other cities do this. Why doesn’t NYC??? I’m tired of the influx of cars with NJ plates on weekends taking up much of the available street parking. NYC taxpayers should get priority for street parking.

      • B.B. says:

        By and large unless “B&T” people are fortunate to find a spot on a side street they already *DO* pay for parking. Who do you think feeds the meters and or pays the very dear rates for parking garages?

        Oh and parking garage use is subject to a sales tax as well.

        How are you going to allot these so called resident parking permits? Restrict them to only those what own a vehicle? Or just those who have valid a drivers license?

        You do realize Manhattan has a large percentage of persons who rent vehicles and or use the various car share schemes. The latter is something NYC is currently promoting.

    19. Les Belges says:

      The idea of issuing parking permits is the perfect solution. They are used by virtually every city in the country. Besides solving parking issues, they
      would raise a great deal of money that can be used for improving public transportation, AND it would also stop residents who evade taxes by registering their car out of state.

      • your neighbor says:

        Just go across the river to residential parts of Jersey City. Can’t park without a permit at any time, I don’t go there anymore.

    20. Annie Parker says:

      What would happen if ALL on-street parking were metered, side streets as well as avenues? More revenue, less congestion, less pollution.

      No more free parking for anyone. Free parking is not a constitutional right. Pay up, parkers.

      • Scott says:

        Fine, I’ll pay. IF the city enforces preferred parking for residents. Let’s throw out a number. I’d pay $200 a year for this privilege.

        • Annie Parker says:

          We’ll start the bidding at say…..$5000/year.

        • B.B. says:

          You must be joking!

          It is impossible to find monthly garage space in Manhattan for $200/per month. So why would the city give away street parking for less money?

          Flip side is that fines for violation of any such “resident parking” would have to be very dear. Otherwise people will simply continue doing what largely happens already with alternate side street cleaning; leave their vehicle parked and “eat” the cost of one, two or more tickets.

          Fine for violating ASP is $55, which for two days (if you leave vehicle in same spot for one week) is only $110. That is still far less than cost of overnight or putting a vehicle in garage for same period.

          • Scott says:

            You’re delusional. Street parking is less valuable than garage space. Our cars have to be moved twice a week and are exposed to weather, vandals, thieves and bad drivers.

            You’re also wrong to think drivers willingly eat the costs of not moving their cars. I don’t, and don’t know of anyone who does. $110 is a lot of money to pay for 1 week of street parking and I wouldn’t do it.

            An annual $200 fee would be a financial win for the city. Remember, the city gets nothing now except revenue from tickets. They would still get that AND the fee.

            Of course my proposal won’t satisfy the legions of ideological car haters like Annie with her laughable $5000 annual fee or people who are just flat out ignorant about the financial realities of parking.

    21. John says:

      The idea of a zone is a stupid and will cause many problems. They should charge 30 dollars on all bridges and tunnels to enter and leave Manhattan (60 dollar round trip). This would decrease traffic 7 days a week into the city. Residents of the city could be exempt to this fee.

    22. your neighbor says:

      I rarely use my car and keep it in a garage a subway ride away from the UWS. If I need it the next morning I generally drive into the neighborhood and park it on the street the day before.
      Ridiculous that I’d have to pay a congestion fee to park within a couple blocks of my home (incidentally where the car is registered and insured).
      I’m all for giving this a try but my EZ pass should be linked to their system giving me at least a few free passes per month. I think residents of the affected neighborhoods pay enough to live here already.

    23. bloomingdaler says:

      What I don’t see mentioned by anyway is the SORRY state of mass transit in general in the Greater Metro Area. It’s easy to point the finger at drivers and say “they can all afford to pay lots of money to park” or “they’re selfish people” (paraphrasing) etc etc but the reality is jobs move around, not everyone who lives in Manhattan works in Manhattan, mass transit is geared to getting workers in central business districts, is MORE EXPENSIVE and takes three or four times as long to get to other areas than traditional workplaces and leaves you standing on a corner waiting for twenty minutes plus in 3 degree weather.
      So the alternatives to driving, I’d say for MANY people, are miserable.

      AND… anyone needs only walk around the streets of the UWS and watch the late-afternoon influx of workers downtown already parking their out-of-state cars on local streets and driving home after a fairly easy and cheap subway ride from workplaces in Lower Manhattan. So the question of “will they take up parking spots near the cut-off points” is really a moot point. They already do.

      EVERY OTHER MAJOR URBAN CENTER in the USA issues parking permits to residents. It generates moderate income, collects income from violators, and allows people who MUST own cars in order to work – – – – there are plenty out there, folks – – – – to function within an urban reality and contribute to the pot while doing so.

      Cars aren’t going away anytime soon, sorry, and without a serious improvement in our mass transit systems to make them redundant, this is going to create further chaos.


    24. Jan says:

      Congestion for the most part is caused by
      The bike lanes. Until they remove the bike lanes congestion will continue. There is not enough room on our streets for cars AND bikes. In the winter the bikes lanes are rarely used. The whole thing has been a waste of city resources as the money could have gone to schools

      • Jay says:

        This is completely false. There have been dozens of studies that have shown bike lanes do not add to congestion and in some cases help it.

    25. David says:

      Congestion pricing works pretty well in London. Sure there are plenty of grumbles about it–this list would be dead without something to grumble about. Let’s give it a go.

    26. Jan56 says:

      Most major cities in the US have permit parking for residents. If you have permit parking for UWS only, then other neighborhood would be adversely effected by out of towners. I live in Manhattan, yet I can’t even park in front of my own home to drop off groceries because people from PA, NJ, CA (etc…!!) are parked in all the available spots. So I live here, pay both City and State taxes, including Property tax, yet the tourist from Michigan (who is likely staying at an illegal Airbnb rental) gets free parking and I have to pay $500 per month to park in a garage???!!. This makes no sense. Not to mention all the NYC residents who illegally have their cars registers in other states. OUR NYC elected officials need to advocate for NYC residents. The city and state need to take over the corrupt MTA and create a fair resident parking system for ALL 5 boros (eg, each neighborhood within the city of Boston has it’s own permit only parking, each household gets 1-2 permits depending on the neighborhood and you must have a register vehicle and proof of residency, visitors park in GARAGES, take cabs or public transportation).

    27. Wendy says:

      Many of the spots in my neighborhood get taken up by folks who work in the businesses on and around Broadway, for example the guys who work in the supermarkets, and the drugstores, doctors offices, etc. You can see them in their work uniforms coming to doublepark their car for alternate side parking. My guess is if congestion pricing was very high for commuting times, they would stop driving in because it would eat up too much of their salary (if they had to pay $20 a day to go in and out of Manhattan). There’s no reason for those people to drive in. What I am concerned about, however, is residents who live in the city and have cars. We should not be penalized for driving into our home borough or for driving out of our home borough.