US DOT Awards $354.5 Million To Implement Congestion Pricing Plan Or Other Alternative Pricing Mechanism

August 14, 2007 — Together with State and City leaders, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded $354.5 million to New York to implement the Mayor’s congestion pricing program or an alternative plan achieving the same reductions in traffic congestion, within the same time frame, and also using a pricing system.

The funds have been awarded jointly to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT ), the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Under the agreement, if the State Legislature approves a pilot congestion pricing plan or an alternative pricing mechanism, the MTA will receive $184 million for new bus facilities and the City will receive $112.7 million to establish Bus Rapid Transit in all five boroughs. The City will also receive $29.3 million for pedestrian and traffic signal improvements, $10.4 million in grant money to implement congestion pricing, $15.8 to improve ferry service, and $2 million to conduct research.

“We’ve worked very hard to secure these funds, and this is a major victory for the people of New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By fulfilling the terms of the agreement, we will be able to create new and better mass transit options for commuters all across the city before congestion pricing takes effect. Now we’ll work with the State Legislature and City Council to seize this golden opportunity to use Federal funds to reduce congestion, improve air quality, and keep traffic tie-ups from choking our economy.”

“Congestion pricing holds immense promise for the future of New York City,” said Governor Spitzer. “It has the potential to mitigate the City’s severe congestion and its associated economic costs while also improving public health by reducing harmful pollutants. I applaud Secretary Mary Peters for her innovative thinking and for recognizing the benefit of choosing the country’s largest city to begin implementing this initiative. The funding provided by the Federal Department of Transportation represents a down payment on a healthier, more environmentally friendly New York.”

“We are pleased that the federal Department of Transportation has awarded New York City $350 million to move forward with Mayor Bloomberg’s ambitious congestion pricing initiative,” said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. “Today’s announcement makes New York a national leader in the effort to reduce traffic congestion, modernize mass transit and improve the quality of the air we breathe. We will continue to partner with Mayor Bloomberg and others to make this vision a reality.”

“I am excited about the opportunity for the City to recapture its national leadership role for developing innovative strategies as the country faces new challenges during these changing times,” said State Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith (D-St. Albans). “I want to congratulate the Mayor for his visionary leadership in addressing traffic congestion, and I look forward to working with him, the Governor and the Legislature in implementing a plan that benefits the City.”

“I congratulate Mayor Bloomberg on the news that New York City has been awarded $354.5 million in federal funds to implement the Mayor’s congestion pricing program,” said Assembly Republican Leader James Tedisco (R -Schenectady, Saratoga). “I have been proud to support Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to reduce traffic in Manhattan, and promote a cleaner environment for all residents to enjoy. New York City is a world-class city and this major investment makes the Big Apple an environmental leader when it comes to public transportation.”

“With our population expected to grow to over 9 million people by 2030, we need to begin making PlaNYC a reality today,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This Federal grant will allow us to implement the Mayor’s congestion pricing plan, which I support, and to make key investments in our public transportation system. These improvements will allow us to alleviate congestion on our streets, cut pollution in our air, and improve commute times for all New Yorkers.”

All parts of the agreement are contingent on the State Legislature approving the pilot congestion pricing plan, or an alternative pricing mechanism, within 90 days of the opening of the next legislative session, and making it effective no later than March 31st, 2009.

Under the agreement, the MTA would receive funds for the construction of bus depots in Jamaica, Queens and Charleston, Staten Island. Also, the MTA would purchase up to 367 new busses with funds already budgeted for the construction of the depots – as proposed in the USDOT Urban Partnership Agreement application. In addition, the grant also pays for constructing a bus lay-up facility, upgrading Park & Ride locations, improving pedestrian walkways to and from stations, and providing new technology at 223 intersections to better manage traffic flow. The City Department of Transportation will construct an East River bus lane to decrease travel times.

New York City will receive $112.7 million to begin Bus Rapid Transit, which will give New Yorkers bus lines with improved infrastructure, vehicles and scheduling that make service faster and more efficient. A high speed Bus Rapid Transit system will be developed in New York City in all five boroughs along major transit corridors that lack subway service. Under the agreement, the City will also receive $10.4 million to begin congestion pricing in Manhattan south of 86th street, with a requirement to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the congestion pricing zone by 6.3%. The City is also committed to spending $112.7 million for technology acquisition, matching the USDOT’s spending on bus rapid transit. Finally, the City would receive $15.8 million for ferry service improvements to connect developing neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens with Midtown and Lower Manhattan and $2 million for research.

If the State Legislature implements a plan which is different than the Mayor’s, in order to access the funds, the plan must:

  • Reduce VMTs in the congested zone by at least 6.3%;
  • Use pricing as the principal mechanism to achieve this reduction;
  • Provide for at least 18 months of operating a congestion pricing program;
  • Provide enough bus service as called for by USDOT to meet the mobility needs of New York City;
  • Meet the authorization deadline of no later than 90 days after the opening of the next session of the New York State Legislature;
  • Meet the implementation deadline of March 31, 2009;
  • Spend as much on pricing implementation technology as is provided by USDOT for Bus Rapid Transit implementation.
  • Be approved by the USDOT.

The NYCDOT, MTA and NYSDOT cannot access the transit funds until a congestion pricing plan meeting the USDOT’s standards is authorized. Failure to meet the VMT-reduction goals, implementation deadlines and all other conditions stipulated in the USDOT grant will lead to a forfeiture of the grant.