Congestion pricing floated as fix for Pa. transit funding crisis - PlanPhilly

The news that New York will become the first U.S. city to impose a fee on vehicles entering Manhattan has put congestion pricing at the center of a statewide conversation about how to fill Pennsylvania’s looming $450 million-a-year transit funding hole.

The policy of charging vehicles for traveling into or within a certain area of a city at certain times has surfaced before in Philly as a means to encourage transit use while raising needed public funds. But the concept — politically impossible even in wealthy and transit-inclined New York until now — has never gained traction beyond the think tank crowd.

London, Singapore, and Sweden implemented congestion pricing and have seen clearer roads, and less pollution, according to reports. With New York offering a closer case study, Philadelphia officials now say the idea merits exploration.

“We’ll be watching NYC's experience with congestion pricing closely to see how this can help improve equity, safety, sustainability, and mobility,” said Kelly Cofrancisco, a spokeswoman for the city.

Charging vehicles to enter parts of the city would be a major change in approach in Philly, where auto-centric thinking still guides many decisions ranging from parking minimums to a barebones approach to street sweeping shaped by complaints by drivers about moving their cars.

City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said he is watching the Big Apple with an eye to how the fee revenue could be used.

“When you look at mass transportation, when you look at our bridge and our infrastructure — they are key areas that need support and so I’ll keep an open mind,” Johnson said.

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