Analysis: Congestion pricing would hit small slice of commuters

A nonprofit group says that its analysis proves that congestion pricing will not hurt the average New Yorker. However, others are saying "Hold on a minute—that analysis doesn't tell the whole story."

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign analyzed federal census data about travel patterns into Manhattan south of 60th Street. That area is referred to as the toll zone for proposed congestion pricing.

The analysis found that less than 5 percent of commuters outside of Manhattan travel by car or taxi into the proposed toll zone every day. In most cases, as many as 30 times more commuters use the subway and buses.

"Only single-digit percentages of people traveling into the tolled zone of Manhattan drive in their vehicles," said Nick Sifuentes of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

The campaign is encouraging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to act on his panel's proposal to implement congestion pricing south of 60th Street. The reason? The money raised through congestion pricing would be given to the MTA to improve the subway and buses and, in turn, improve commuting for low-income New Yorkers.

But the AAA Northeast's Robert Sinclair Jr. is very skeptical because another billion dollars would go to an agency that has a reputation for mismanaging money. Sinclair, like many others, opposes congestion pricing, calling it an unfair tax on struggling commuters. He said the analysis by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign does not tell the entire story.

"We've seen as many as perhaps 160,000 vehicles might be going into that district. Of particular concern to us is what the income of those people might be," Sinclair said. "And according to the census data that we've seen, 49 percent of those are making less than $50,000 a year. So that's an important number to look at."