Congestion pricing in Manhattan could save lives, advocates say

Reducing the number of cars would reduce traffic violence, advocates said.

Charging drivers to enter Manhattan’s central business district wouldn’t just generate revenue that could be put toward fixing the subways — it could also save lives, according to advocates.

Proponents of congestion pricing gathered Thursday morning to rally for the safety benefits they say will come along with instituting a fee for drivers who enter Manhattan’s most heavily trafficked neighborhoods below 60th Street.

The idea is simple: Congestion pricing would reduce the number of cars on the road, which would reduce the risk of traffic violence, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

In central London, where congestion pricing was enacted in 2003, the number of crashes dropped by 40 percent, according to a study presented at a Royal Economic Society conference in 2015.

Standing near the corner of Forsyth and Canal streets, where a driver jumped the curb and killed a pedestrian in November, Transportation Alternatives’ senior organizer Erwin Figueroa said congestion pricing would help change the culture of New York City’s streets.

“This should be a no-brainer, and we expect our elected leaders in Albany to make better transit and safer streets a priority in the upcoming legislative session,” Figueroa said.

Enacting congestion pricing in Manhattan has been a point of contentious debate for years, but it has gained renewed traction as lawmakers look for funding to fix the MTA’s crumbling subway system.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo threw his support behind the idea in 2017 and a panel he commissioned outlined details of a congestion pricing plan in January. State lawmakers, however, failed to push through legislation.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), who attended the rally Thursday, said congestion pricing is a priority for the State Legislature as it heads into a new session in January.

“Congestion pricing clears our air and makes our streets undoubtedly safer,” Hoylman said. “With our city’s subways in peril, congestion pricing will give the MTA the revenue they need to get our transit systems up and running again.”

Lauren Cook