Back in my days as an economist, I wrote a paper about the benefits of a congestion charge, especially in places like New York. Such a fee would charge automobiles for using the streets of downtown Manhattan during peak hours. There are scaled prices for residents, and obvious passes for emergency and service vehicles, and pubic transport.
Singapore has been a shining example of how a system can be implemented. Since implementation, the city has experienced significantly reduced traffic, lower travel times, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the congestion charge system raises funds towards the upkeep and construction of infrastructure.
Such a system in the NYC would not only open up the roads, but also raise the needed funds (or be a good start towards) continuing the current level of service and pricing for the MTA system. Now, it definitely has its drawbacks, one of the big ones being financial discrimination on a public causeway. But the benefits outweigh the costs, despite what would assuredly be a public outcry upon implementation.
I like talking about this, and could go on. Let me know if you want to discuss further.
Per usual, TFR.