It’s working in London and Stockholm, but can congestion pricing in Manhattan have an impact on people living and working in Queens?
By charging a fee to drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street at peak times, congestion pricing — which state legislators are debating until April 1, when the budget will be finalized — expects to generate as much as $1 billion a year, and that will help business owners and residents in Queens in several ways.
Money will be earmarked for new and ongoing projects, like direct LIRR service into Grand Central when east side access is complete, a new bus depot to replace Jamaica Depot, modernize tracks leading in and out of Jamaica Station to improve LIRR service, improve drainage at Far Rockaway; More reliable train service on the G line, and replace and upgrade the Mets-Willets Point LIRR station and create direct access to the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain Station.
Also, according to the Riders Alliance, congestion pricing can shorten Queens express bus commutes by as much as 2 hours.
If congestion pricing is not passed? The MTA estimates that transit fares will need to rise by 27% to pay for essential projects.
In London, congestion pricing has reduced traffic by 15%, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. In Stockholm, the number of children going to the hospital because of asthma has dropped by 50%.
Dudley Stewart, owner of the Queensboro Restaurant in Jackson Heights, thinks it’s well worth exploring. “We’re used to the idea of there being gridlock throughout the city, especially during rush hour,” he said. “I think congestion pricing is definitely one of the things we need to try. It’s been done in other cities. It’s going to make buses run a lot better if we create corridors for them to move without getting stuck in traffic.”
“Congestion pricing,” says Andy Darrell, regional New York director for Environmental Defense Fund, “is a realistic step we can take to reduce traffic, cut air pollution, and increase funding for public transportation.”
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