New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has come out in favor of the proposed “congestion pricing” plans, putting her at odds with New Jersey officials long-opposed to any such proposal for their residents.
The plans call for a surtax levied 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.
New Jersey officials had panned the proposals and hoped that Hochul, after being sworn in last month, would block or at least slow down the plans. That has not come to be.
“No question of my support for congestion pricing,” she said during a regular COVID-19 press briefing on Sept. 8, adding that she wants to know the “shortest timetable we can follow” to have it implemented.
Likewise, Eric Adams, a leading mayoral contender for New York City, has strongly backed the proposal.
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.
Under the plan, city officials would levy a once-daily toll for vehicles entering the “Central Business District,” which stretches from the south end of Central Park all the way to Battery Park at the south end of Manhattan Island.
“New York City’s proposed congestion tax would endanger the economic recovery of the New York metropolitan region, add[ing] further expense to the already sky-high cost of commuting into New York City,” responded New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat whose congressional district includes several commuter-towns.
Federal officials are allowing the plan to move forward with a number of key public review sessions necessary for approval. But, several members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation are asking the Biden administration to slow-walk the process.
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, according to Gottheimer.
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.
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