What could be next after the congestion fee

The Bear Mountain Bridge is just one part of New York's transportation infrastructure that could be helped by a "vehicle-miles traveled fee."
The Bear Mountain Bridge is just one part of New York's transportation infrastructure that could be helped by a "vehicle-miles traveled fee."
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The Bear Mountain Bridge is just one part of New York's transportation infrastructure that could be helped by a "vehicle-miles traveled fee."

What could be next after the congestion fee

The nonprofit Citizens Budget Commission released a report detailing the possibilities presented by a “vehicle-miles traveled fee.”
May 8, 2019

One persistent debate throughout every budget season is how much money should be allotted to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state authority that operates such transit systems as the New York City subway. This year, lawmakers agreed to pass congestion pricing – a new funding source that is expected to raise about $1.5 billion per year – to provide a $15 billion boost to the transit agency. In doing so, New York City will become the first municipality in the country to introduce congestion pricing. But some are already looking for the next option for funding the city’s vast transportation needs.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit Citizens Budget Commission released a report detailing the possibilities presented by a “vehicle-miles traveled fee,” which would collect revenue from road users based on how many miles they travel. While the CBC lauds the passage of congestion pricing, the report calls for the adoption of the fee to fund outstanding transportation needs across the state, like upkeep of New York’s roads and bridges.  

Implementing the fee would require technology – referred to as an Onboard Unit – to actually build out the policy. And while this relatively straightforward technology has long been in use, the CBC does point out that as possibilities for their use increase – with features like GPS tracking – public concerns will have to be taken into consideration. “Privacy concerns may favor options that do not include location data or that calculate all fees within the OBU internally before sending summarized information to data centers,” the report states. “In the future, a VMT fee also may be able to rely on in-vehicle telematics, which include the capability to capture travel data and increasingly are standardized in new car models.”

April Fools Day is coming. Prank your friends opening a never ending fake update screen on their computer. Sit back and watch their reaction.

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Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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