Ahead of a Friday’s hearing that New York City is holding for New Jerseyans to express their thoughts on the congestion pricing proposal, a group is being formed in opposition, called the Fair Congestion Pricing Alliance.
The FCPA in a Sept. 23 announcement, argued that the plan has little, if any, representation from New Jersey, that the federal government needs to step in to oversee any proposal, and that the existing public transit infrastructure is not yet present to handle an influx of commuters who might switch from cars.
Under the plan, the city would levy a surtax on drivers coming into New York City from New Jersey during rush-hour traffic. City and state officials in the Empire State plan to use the proceeds to finance major upgrades for New York City’s sprawling subway system, which they contend are sorely needed.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is holding its hearing for New Jersey residents on Sept. 24 at 10 a.m. Registration is required via new.mta.info/project/CBDTP or calling 646-252-6777.
“New York is asking New Jersey to pony up and pay for New York’s public transit infrastructure and we get nothing back in return,” Tom Bracken, who heads the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said in a Sept. 23 statement from the alliance.
“New Jerseyans are the source of use for the bridges and tunnel crossings and NJ Transit – which were already above capacity pre-pandemic – so we not only demand a seat at the table but also the opportunity to improve our infrastructure to meet the collective goals of everyone involved,” he said.
New Jersey officials have panned the proposals and hoped that New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, after being sworn in last month, would block or at least slow down the plans. She instead has come out in favor of it, as has Eric Adams, a leading mayoral contender for New York City.
It’s estimated that the plan would generate $15 billion for the city over the next four years.
“[C]ongestion pricing is the foundational source of funds to fix and modernize our subway, bus and commuter rail network,” reads an Aug. 24 letter from 31 different transportation nonprofits, trade groups and companies – including the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the Regional Plan Association, and ride hailing companies Uber and Lyft.
Meanwhile, there had been some speculation and talks about credits for tolls paid at the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, but nothing of the sort for the George Washington Bridge. The FCPA, in its three-page statement, cautioned that such a plan would snarl traffic at those two junctions into Manhattan.
Gov. Phil Murphy, meanwhile, said he wants New Jersey to have a greater say in how New York goes ahead with the plan. And state leaders are proposing a variety of arm-twisting methods, should New York stay the course on congestion pricing.
One proposal in Congress would bar the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway system, from getting federal funds unless it exempts New Jersey drivers from the congestion pricing charge. It would also create federal tax credits that New Jersey drivers could claim for the money they end up paying to New York.
Earlier in the spring, New Jersey lawmakers said they would go ahead with a counterattack to the congestion pricing proposal that would soften the blow Garden State drivers could feel from the proposed surtax.
Under that plan, the Garden State would tax all non-New Jersey drivers and use the funds for a rebate that would help commuters recoup some of the money spent on New York’s new toll. New Jersey drivers would be exempt from that plan.