Murphy, Cuomo reach potential agreement on congestion pricing

Daniel J. Munoz//April 24, 2019

Murphy, Cuomo reach potential agreement on congestion pricing

Daniel J. Munoz//April 24, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy has come to a “conceptual understanding” with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on congestion pricing under which New Jersey commuters would be exempt from the surcharge and avoid double-taxation, but at the potential cost of having none of the revenue go to New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy holds a roundtable discussion on the Fiscal Year 2020 budget with Bergen County Officials on April 24, 2019. (EDWIN J. TORRES/GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

Drivers on the three Hudson River crossings – the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels – would be credited for the amount already paid in tolls under the plan the Murphy administration is pushing, which he discussed at a press conference at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack on Wednesday afternoon.

The price has yet to be determined and tolling does not begin until after December 2020.

Murphy said that his meetings with Cuomo have not touched on whether New Jersey would get a slice of the revenue. The focus has been making sure New Jersey commuters are not “double-taxed” and that the state has a “seat at the table” with regard to future decisions made on congestion pricing.

A Metropolitan Transportation Authority and NYC Department of Transportation panel would hash out the specifics of congestion pricing, including the exact price, and Murphy said New Jersey would be represented on that panel.

“The MTA will determine congestion pricing and will be doing a traffic study over the next two years,” said Patrick Muncie, a spokesperson for Cuomo’s office. “They will consider all crossings as well as New Jersey crossings. No conclusions will be reached by the MTA until all studies are completed.”

And Shams Tarek, a spokesperson for the MTA, reiterated that to date, no deal exists on “credits, exemptions or carveouts because the MTA will determine the tolls once the studies are completed.”

The proposed congestion pricing, part of New York’s $175 billion budget that Cuomo signed on April 1, would apply to all drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street during peak traffic hours. Opponents from New Jersey, including the state’s Congressional delegation, worried drivers on the George Washington Bridge would pay both the toll and the congestion fee.

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.

New Jersey would also agree to install cashless tolls, or EZ Pass, at all three crossings. Murphy said such a system would be necessary to determine who paid tolls and how much they paid.

In the case of the George Washington Bridge, the EZ Pass system would be vital to letting the system know whether the driver actually went into Manhattan – which would warrant congestion pricing – or whether they continued up Interstate 95 into New England, in which case they would not have to pay the surtax.