Get the Facts About Congestion Pricing in Your District Right Here

Bookmark these factsheets from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign to share with your State Senate and Assembly reps.

In David Weprin's Eastern Queens district, just 4.2 percent of commuters would pay a congestion fee. Chart: TSTC
In David Weprin's Eastern Queens district, just 4.2 percent of commuters would pay a congestion fee. Chart: TSTC

The go-to line about congestion pricing that you hear from David Weprin and company is that it’s an unfair fee on working stiffs from Eastern Queens. Sometimes you’ll get variations on the theme, like when Mayor de Blasio says flatly that “Brooklyn and Queens” will pay disproportionately.

These lines of attack crumble as soon as you look at Census data about how people get to work in NYC. We live in a transit town where most people don’t car commute, and even most car commuters wouldn’t pay a congestion fee because they don’t work in the traffic-choked heart of the region. The transit commuters who would stand to benefit from improvements made with congestion pricing, meanwhile, tend to earn far less than their car commuting neighbors.

Now the Tri-State Transportation Campaign has done us the great favor of breaking down this Census commute data by state legislative district. If you want to make sure your Albany representatives know that congestion pricing can help the vast majority of their constituents, look up your State Senate and Assembly reps and get some data to share on your next phone call to their legislative offices. Bookmark the page.

The factsheets update a similar analysis that Tri-State released in 2007, with current legislative districts and more recent Census numbers.

There’s not a single district in the MTA service region where even 10 percent of commuters would pay a congestion fee, Tri-State found. In some districts, the ratio of transit riders to car commuters into the Manhattan Central Business District is 30 to 1.

Even in Weprin’s Eastern Queens district, just 4.2 percent of commuters would pay a congestion fee under the Fix NYC recommendations. Among the commuters who work in the CBD, more than 80 percent take transit.

Census data isn’t going to stop Weprin and his cohort in Albany from fighting congestion pricing. But it shows who they’re fighting for, and it’s not the mythical masses they say they’re defending. Those working stiffs are riding subways and buses.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Good resource!

    I think a congestion would be way more palatable to most if it were limited to commuting hours, like the LIE HOV hours: Monday through Friday 6:00 AM – 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Someone that takes a subway to work each morning might like to drive in on the weekend, outside of commuting times.

  • AnoNYC

    How about the people stuck on the bus or riding a bike between 10-3PM within the CBD? How about the pedestrians on the street? The area is still extremely saturated with automobiles during the mid-day.

    In the evening I would like to maintain a charge to balance the crossings. I’ve been stuck in heavy traffic on the East River Bridges in the middle of the night.

    I would offer a reduction on outer crossings as a carrot.

  • Reader

    Traffic in the city can be awful on Saturdays and Sundays at all hours. The whole notion of “commuting hours” is outdated. When it comes to people’s reasons for driving, congestion is agnostic.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Stuck on a bus should be independent of this: as we’re expanding bus-only lanes, as we should. Bikes don’t get stuck in traffic.

    Look, I drive (and use other modes) a lot in this city, and the vast majority of the time, it’s really not bad in the CBD outside of those hours.

    Heavy East river traffic at night is usually due to some specific thing, like construction or lane closures, and is not a function of volume. I use the midtown tunnel a lot, and at night it closes down to one lane only in each direction, and even then, that adds maybe a 2 min delay, unless theres a dui checkpoint, at which point you’re idling for over 30min.

    But if you’re going to say that east river tolling only affects some percentage of commuters, and then go ahead and toll non-commuters as well, that’s an apples to oranges situation. It makes sense to use the charts linked in the article if you’re tolling during commuting hours only.

  • AnoNYC

    Not all buses will have bus only lanes within the Manhattan CBD. Some routes traverse streets that are so narrow that the city would have to dedicate the whole street to the bus. We have more potential for intrusions into the bus lane with greater automotive volumes. And finally it is difficult politically to install bus lanes when there is significant automotive traffic volumes.

    As for bikes. I ride my bike into the CBD regularly and I get temporarily stuck from time to time. But what’s worse is the volume of drivers which makes it hazardous. This excess discourages others from riding and leads to injuries and death. Pedestrians are also at high risk.

    But overall mid-day traffic is really bad so I would have to disagree. It might be lighter, but it is still very slow. Saying this, how will it be in 5-10 years is a question to consider as well.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Right now, at 1:43 PM, google tells me it will take 45min to drive from South Brooklyn to midtown. In the middle of the night it takes 35-40min.

    From corona, it’s 30 min right now, while at night you’re looking at 25.

    Traffic’s pretty light during the middle of the day on weekdays.

  • Wilfried84

    This tool is cool, but very confusing for my District 65, Assembly Member Niou’s district in Lower Manhattan, entirely inside the CBD. It says, “77.2% of district workers commute into the CBD and 22.8% do not commute into the CBD.” I think this means that workers who “commute into the CBD” in fact never leave. The 22.8% who “do not commute into the CBD” in fact commute into it to go home. Am I reading this correctly? What does “How do commuters get into the CBD” mean when they are there already? All of these numbers describe commuting by residents of the district, correct?

    It also says that those who drive alone have lower than median income. Interesting, but how can that be?

  • reasonableexplanation

    There are clearly hours where there is no congestion. Go to almost anywhere in the CBD at 4AM and there will hardly be anyone there.

    I feel that during this time there is no congestion, hence there should not be a congestion charge.

    The same is probably true at 3AM and at 5AM, and at many other times too. Hence I feel it;s not unreasonable to define these hours as not subject to a congestion charge. I posted the LIE HOV hours as a decent enough guide.

    Based on my own anecdotal driving, as long as you’re on the road outside of the following hours, you won’t see delays:

    Monday-Friday: 6:30 AM – 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    Sat: 11:00AM-4:00PM
    Sun: 3:00PM-7:00PM

  • JarekFA

    Try taking a lower Manhattan tunnel or bridge at or around 8.30pm. Slow as f—- the whole way. I know this because my firm pays for late night car rides (8pm or later) and I’ve learned the hard way.

  • sbauman

    One problem is the data source used for this analysis. Data source: Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP), US Bureau of the Census 2006-2010 ACS, sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

    The data is old. The Census Bureau outsourced the old journey-to-work data to AASHTO. AASHTO has not kept it up to date. It’s more outdated than the old long form journey to work data that Census Bureau compiled with the decennial census until 2000.

    The American Community Survey (ACS) is a fairly limited survey. Five years of survey data must be included to get a sufficiently large sample. Care has to be taken when considering smaller samples for subdivisions like assembly districts or the CBD.

    The Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data provides an alternative for answering employment origin/destination questions. This yearly data is based on unemployment insurance and W-4 forms that employees fill out. Data from 2002 through 2015 is available. This database is so large that residence and work locations are resolved down to the census block level.

    This data shows that the percentage of workers that lived in the 24th Assembly District and worked within the CBD in 2015 in all private sector jobs was 27.8%. The percentage for primary private sector jobs was 28.4%. Both these numbers and data for the 2006-2010 years are greater than the 24.0% figure that the Tri-State Campaign’s figure. Their estimate is off by 15 to 18%, which isn’t good.

    One would expect even larger errors, when the population is further divided into those driving or taking public transit.

  • AnoNYC

    I still disagree.

    Travel time via automobile is not the only issue here.

    There are still way too many autos in the core during mid-day. Think about how those volumes affect other road users.

    And 30 minutes to travel about 7 miles in a car is slow. That’s about an average speed of about 14 MPH.

    We can do better.

  • sbauman

    Your article underestimates the impact of cordon tolling in Weprin’s district, even with the Tri-State Campaign’s considerable statistical shortcomings.

    You used the figure of 4.2% for the percentage of people in Weprin’s District that would be subject to the cordon toll. A more accurate measure of the impact would be the percentage of people who work within the CBD. This would include single occupancy vehicles, car pools and taxis. This number is 18% of those that work in the CBD. That’s a much bigger impact than 4.2%.

    By comparison the same metric for those who already live in the CBD is: 6% (65AD); 8% (66AD) and 8% (74AD). These drivers and automobile passengers would be exempt from the cordon toll by virtue of their residence. By comparison the median income for these assembly districts is: $53,716 (65AD); $87,289 (66AD) and $63,740 (74AD). Mr. Weprin’s high fliers have a median income of $36,439. Those with higher median income escape taxation; those with lower median income must pay. That’s the essence of a regressive tax.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I take the tunnels and bridges into Manhattan at night all the time, they’re fine. There’s tons of traffic leaving Manhattan at these times though, is that what you’re thinking of?

  • NYCBK123

    This is one of the most helpful uses of transportation data in months, if not years.

  • John H Steinberg

    But people within cordon who commute out will pay toll

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