$ 450 million for Philly transit is running out. Congestion pricing is off the table – NBC10 Philadelphia


A ten-year-old method of using the Pennsylvania Turnpike toll revenues to pay nearly half a billion dollars a year to the Philadelphia transit system is set to expire next summer.

Philadelphia transportation officials this week described the disappearing Turnpike toll money replacement as “critical” to SEPTA’s future, noting that even a federal infrastructure bill currently being debated in the Congress would lighten the loss of $ 450 million in state funding.

One idea that would provide a dedicated revenue stream for SEPTA is “congestion pricing,” which New York City has been considering for a few years. An article published this week by the Politico newspaper noted that the proposal, which would impose high fees on some drivers heading to Manhattan, again runs into political roadblock. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has pledged to fight these charges tooth and nail.

Two years ago, Philadelphia announced it would review the New York City plan. But as the political retreat continued to hamper progress on congestion pricing proposal, the idea is nothing more than an abstract idea at Philadelphia City Hall.

The city’s deputy mayor for transportation and sustainability, Michael Carroll, told NBC10 on Wednesday that there are currently no plans for a congestion pricing initiative.

“The same issues that made it a difficult prospect in the past are the same that make it difficult today,” Carroll said. He noted that the city would like to ensure fairness for some commuters who have no choice but to travel downtown to work.

However, tracking technology is making it easier than ever to create a congestion pricing model to suit particular city populations, mobility and traffic patterns, according to an economist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. .

Professor Gilles Duranton, whose research focuses on traffic and mobility in cities around the world, said congestion pricing has been implemented in places like Stockholm, London and Singapore.

Yet the policy has often hampered the more widespread use of taxation of commuters who travel to crowded city centers, he said.

“We know it works at a certain level of charge. If you price it high enough, it’s going to discourage people from driving,” Duranton said. “It’s also exactly the same reason people get angry. If there is a $ 20 or $ 30 fee to enter the city, it will make some people not very happy at all. ‘is very difficult politically to adopt. “

It didn’t stop progressive urban planning groups like 5th Square, a Philadelphia political action committee, to push for congestion pricing as a way to help commuters switch from cars to SEPTA.

“Congestion pricing in Philadelphia would aim to solve two of the most pressing transportation issues,” said Benjamin She of 5th Square. “There is the cost associated with traffic congestion, particularly on Schuylkill (freeway) and (Interstate) 95 entering the city.”

“The second thing is, this is really one of the best ways to fund SEPTA and the rest of our transit systems in Philly,” she said. “PennDOT and the State of Pennsylvania are on the verge of ending their dedicated funding, $ 450 million. It will all disappear after 2022. Philly and all counties really need to find local funding to supplement the money lost from state. Congestion pricing could be a very good way to do that. “

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