Modern cities exist because we’ve engineered ways to safely and quickly move people up and across urban landscapes.
Without innovations such as the safety elevator, which was invented in Brooklyn, and the visionary effort to create the world’s most extensive subway system, the New York City we know would not exist. Sadly, after decades of under-investment and benign neglect, the Big Apple’s overtaxed transportation system has been lurching from one crisis to the next in recent years.
Even as new technologies continue to transform urban mobility, we struggle with long-standing challenges such as traffic jams, aging infrastructure, and inadequate revenue for public transit. To tackle these 20th century problems, we need innovative 21st century approaches.
New York City this week became the first U.S. city to embrace “congestion pricing” — where motorists are charged a fee when driving into a city’s central business district. In this case, vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street during business hours would be subject to a fee of up to $11.
The New York State Legislature’s decision to include a congestion pricing system in its 2020 state budget represents the culmination of more than a decade of advocacy, political maneuvering, and commuter outrage. The proposed fees are projected to generate hundreds of millions every year directly and up to $15 billion in bond revenue for transit improvements by 2024. And none too soon.
Every day, more than 8 million people use New York’s subway and bus systems, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. These systems are what drive the economy in our nation’s largest metropolitan area. Unfortunately, their reliability, safety, and ridership have been declining for years.