Congestion Pricing: An Analysis of New York State Legislative Districts

Click a district on the map or in the dropdown menus below to view its factsheet. For an index of all fact sheets, click here.

In October 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo convened the Fix NYC advisory panel to find solutions to the twin crises of New York City’s mass transit meltdown and gridlock in Manhattan. In January, the Fix NYC panel released its recommendations, including a proposal for congestion pricing, which would help raise billions of dollars for public transit improvements as well as relieve traffic congestion and improve air quality throughout the region.

To shed some light on this important policy issue, Tri-State Transportation Campaign has updated its congestion pricing district-level analysis of New York State legislative districts in the region served by the MTA. In 2007, TSTC published factsheets analyzing how many commuters would be affected by congestion pricing using 2000 Census data. This year, using data from the 2011-2015 Census American Community Survey and Census Transportation Planning Products, TSTC has produced fact sheets for each of the 140 State Assembly and Senate districts in the MTA service area.

TSTC’s analysis points to three major findings:

  • In all districts surveyed, only single-digit percentages of residents commute into the potential tolled zone of Manhattan
  • In the majority of districts, far higher numbers of commuters rely on public transit, with some districts having 30 public transit users for every 1 driver into the tolled zone
  • The districts with the highest number of commuters into and within the tolled zone are in Manhattan, and drivers in those districts are significantly wealthier than public transit users

The fact sheets contain every Assembly and Senate district in the MTA service area. Each includes:

  • An analysis of the percentages of commuters who would be subject to a potential toll as well as percentages who would benefit from increased funding for mass transit;
  • A breakdown of commuting patterns into the potential tolled zone, defined here as the central business district of Manhattan below 60th Street (CBD);
  • Data on median income of commuters by mode, where available.

While congestion pricing by itself won’t solve every transportation challenge our city faces, it is an integral part of a larger strategy to make urban transportation more efficient, sustainable and equitable. Our recent report, A Way Forward for New York City: Road Pricing in London, Stockholm and Singapore, demonstrates that other cities with congestion pricing programs invested in mass transit improvements before enacting congestion pricing and, crucially, dedicated revenues from congestion pricing directly to public transit improvements. If New York is to have the same success with congestion pricing, we must invest in public transit fixes now and with congestion pricing revenues as well.

Methodology

The counties in this analysis include Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond in New York City, as well as the Metropolitan Counties of Nassau, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester. Some of the districts involved in this analysis extended into neighboring counties. For the purposes of this analysis, the congestion pricing zone is defined as the Central Business District (CBD), which is the area of Manhattan south of 60th Street. Only those census tracts falling well within the proposed CBD were included in the assessment of impact.

The data source for demographic information was the US Census 2011-2015 5-Year American Community Survey (ACS). Demographic variables collected include total population, total population of workers 16 years and older, race of workers 16 years and older by transportation mode, and median earnings of workers 16 years and older with income by transportation mode. The median income data for Assembly Districts 2, 4, 8, 92 and 94 was not statistically significant and has not been included in our analysis of those districts.

The data source for journey to work information was the Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) based on 2006 – 2010 5-year ACS Data (sponsored by AASHTO). Journey to work data was collected at the census tract level from the CTPP for New York State and filtered for only those commuting into and out of the CBD in the area of analysis outlined above. The percentage of central business district commuters for each legislative district was calculated by aggregating all the commuters into a census tract included in the CBD as outlined above and taking that over the total commuters for a given census tract. Data from US Census and CTPP represent estimates. Special thanks to Datapolitan, LLC, for their aid in assembling and analyzing Census data.