FORT LEE, NJ – Bipartisan, state legislation was announced Thursday to halt congestion fees, which could cost drivers up to $23 more to traverse Midtown and below.
The plan was drawn up by state legislators in New Jersey and New York.
“We are not an ATM for the MTA,” Rep. Mike Lawler said.
The message agreed by Lawler, a New York Republican, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, is exemplified in the proposed Anti-Congestion Pricing Act.
The proposed congestion charging plan.
It could cost drivers an additional $23 in transit, estimated to be worth $5,000 a year, all in hopes of driving cars and trucks out of the area and reducing traffic.
“If they want to steal money from our families, the idea that they’re also taking federal tax dollars that people pay is outrageous. So they lose the federal subsidies that they get every year, billions of dollars that the MTA gets every year,” Gottheimer said.
Gotthiemer described just part of the anti-congestion pricing law, which would ban federal investment grants from flowing to the MTA until drivers received a tax exemption for congestion charges, and would also rewrite the tax law to account for drivers going through those tolls give a federal tax credit.
At an independent news conference Thursday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul showed her unwavering support for congestion charges.
“We are moving forward. We’re not going to be put off by people holding press conferences, I assure you. Regardless of what happens in the House of Representatives, it would have to come through the United States Senate,” Hochul said.
Across the Hudson River, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said at another news conference he couldn’t get behind New Jersey’s double taxation of drivers.
“But, hey, if I told you it would cost x dollars more to get your car into Manhattan if you had a reliable ride with a seat that you knew would be on time in Manhattan on a train or Bus would fly through a state-of-the-art bus station, that would be one thing. But we don’t have that yet,” Murphy said.
The congestion fees are intended to reduce car pollution in the city, but opponents believe they will only shift traffic to places like the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee and potentially increase air pollution.
“But just adding a toll will shift congestion. It will move to Fort Lee. It’s going to move it to the Bronx. It’s going to move it to Queens, and these are low-income communities that are already experiencing congestion in their communities,” Lawler said.
The MTA’s director of external relations, John J. McCarthy, said in a statement, among other things, “Anyone who is serious about the environment and reducing congestion understands that congestion charging is good for the environment and does a good job of reducing fire engines.” , buses and vans to get around the city and good for the 90% of people who rely on public transport.”
Congressmen and Murphy are asking the Biden administration to conduct an environmental impact study on congestion pricing before proceeding.
There is no exact date when congestion charges will start, although they were approved in 2019.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the senior New York senator had already discussed the issue at the federal level and hoped all parties could come to a consensus.