COVID-19 has strained PennDOT’s budget, pushing it towards congestion pricing. What might that mean for the state?

Getting used to fewer cars in Center City Philadelphia and less congestion on I-76 during the COVID-19 pandemic? The state is considering ways of making those temporary consequences of more people staying at home permanent–while also generating some much-needed revenue.

Specifically, PennDOT officials have again underscored their interest in so-called congestion pricing–a broad range of strategies designed to reduce the number of cars on the road during rush hour.

Those could include variable tolling depending on the time of day, levying a fee for drivers entering a certain area who are driving into a city center or simply allowing drivers to buy into high occupancy vehicle lanes regardless of the number of passengers they are carrying.

Acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian has indicated the department is intrigued by the potential for congestion pricing, even before COVID-19 blew a hole in the state transportation budget.