This step will trigger a 60-day public commentary period.
The MTA will then finalize a toll schedule with proposed rates before public hearings begin in February.
Changes can still be made before congestion pricing goes into effect in the spring.
The NYC congestion pricing plan would require most drivers to pay $15 to enter Manhattan’s central business district.
With a 9 to 1 vote, congestion pricing took a major leap today as the MTA approved the plan put forth by the Traffic Mobility review board last week.
The MTA says the detailed plan will reduce congestion and pollution while generating funding for crucial capital projects like the extension of the Second Avenue Subway.
They also plan on making the system more accessible for the disabled, by building more elevators.
"This is essential to the city’s future" said MTA CEO and Chairman Janno Lieber. "We are the most congested traffic city the U.S. and it is a threat to our future economically.
How much will it cost?
Under the plan, $15 will be the base fare for cars entering the central business district south of 60th Street in Manhattan.
Rates will be 75% lower during overnights beginning at 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. on weekdays, and until 9 a.m. on weekends.
Trucks and buses will be charged between $24-$36 depending on their size.
A $1.25 surcharge on taxis, a cost that is expected to be passed on to passengers.
And an additional $2.50 per trip charge will be applied to hire apps that include Ubers and Lyfts.
Drivers from New Jersey who have already paid at one of the four tunnel crossings into the Central Business District will receive a discount.
Kathryn Wylde who, as President and CEO of Partnership for New York City represents the city’s business interests on the TMRB, directly addressed the misconception that congestion pricing will hurt businesses.
"Some traffic is great, but there’s a point at which excess congestion becomes an expense." Wylde told the board, "Excess traffic congestion is costing the NYC region over $20 billion a year."
The complex plan has its critics, who lament the fact that school buses and taxi cabs will not be exempt. And other board members zeroed in on potential toll-dodgers. Fox 5 has repeatedly aired reports highlighting the proliferation of fake or obscured license plates - creating ‘ghost cars.’
"We have seen news reports on people shielding their license plates and getting away with murder," said Andrew Albert, an MTA Board Member. "Will we be upping our enforcement of people who evade the tolls?" Albert added.
The congestion pricing plan, which neighboring New Jersey has filed a lawsuit over, will be the first such program in the United States if it's approved by transportation officials early next year.
Advocates for congestion pricing
MTA officials, as well as Gov. Kathy Hochul, rallied Tuesday morning in Union Square to tout the benefits of the controversial plan.
According to MTA officials, the plan is expected to generate $1 billion in revenue for the agency, enough to keep the wheels turning on it's buses, trains and subway cars.
Congestion pricing critics
Taxi drivers would pass a $1.25 surcharge onto their passengers for entering the congestion zone, while app-based ride-hail passengers would see a $2.50 surcharge. The drivers had pushed for a full exemption.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy criticized the traffic mobility board's proposal as well.
"The Traffic Mobility Review Board’s recommended credit structure is wholly inadequate, especially the total lack of toll credits for the George Washington Bridge, which will lead to toll shopping, increased congestion in underserved communities, and excessive tolling at New Jersey crossings into Manhattan," Murphy, who filed a federal lawsuit over congestion pricing in July, said in a statement.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.