The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is denying that the governors of New York and New Jersey reached an agreement on how the new tolling plan, known as congestion pricing, will handle New Jersey commuters driving into Manhattan’s central business district.
“With all due respect to Gov. [Phil] Murphy, we have no idea what he is talking about,” Patrick Foye, head of the MTA, said in a statement Wednesday night.
According to the “conceptual understanding” that Murphy touted Wednesday in Bergen County, drivers using the Hudson River crossings would get a credit towards the congestion fee for the tolls they already paid crossing the Hudson River.
“No agreement has been reached with New Jersey or anyone else on credits, exemptions or carveouts,” added Foye, who was previously Cuomo’s pick as executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey between 2011 and 2017.
“With all due respect to Mr. Foye, Gov. Murphy has had positive discussions with [New York] Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo on congestion pricing and Gov. Murphy’s remarks from earlier today reflect those conversations,” responded Mahen Gunaratna, communications director for Murphy’s office.
The “conceptual understanding” between Murphy and Cuomo would treat all three Hudson River crossings – the George Washington Bridge and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels – “equally,” which could find drivers of those routes exempt from the new toll.
New Jersey lawmakers were especially worried the pricing scheme would “double tax” commuters on the George Washington Bridge, meaning they would pay both the congestion pricing surcharge and the bridge-toll. The surcharge is levied against commuters entering Manhattan south of 60th Street during rush hour traffic.
“This understanding means New Jersey commuters will be treated equally at all Hudson River crossings… and New Jersey will also have a seat at the table as the plan moves forward,” Murphy said Wednesday.
The tolls go into effect after December 2020, and pricing has yet to be determined. Proponents of the surtax envision revenue going toward upgrades and maintenance for infrastructure projects in New York City, such as the sprawling and beleaguered subway system operated by the MTA.
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Department of Transportation panel would hash out the specifics of congestion pricing, including the exact price, and Murphy said New Jersey would be part of that panel.
Murphy also said Wednesday that New Jersey would agree to install cashless, electronic tolling at all the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey crossings.
Congestion pricing has fallen under mounting opposition from New Jersey lawmakers, like Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s proposed charging of a congestion fee to New York drivers.
Meanwhile, U.S. Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th District, and Bill Pascrell, D-9th District, unveiled Congressional measures to withhold federal funding from New York in response to the pricing scheme.