New York, New Jersey lawmakers teaming up in fight against congestion pricing

January 19, 2023

CBS News New York

By Kristie Keleshian & Elijah Westbrook

FORT LEE, N.J. — Bipartisan, cross-state legislation was announced Thursday to stop congestion pricing, which could cost drivers up to $23 to cross through Midtown and below.

The plan was devised by lawmakers in New Jersey and New York.

“We are not an ATM for the MTA,” Rep. Mike Lawler said.

The message agreed upon by Lawler, a Republican from New York, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, is illustrated in the proposed Anti-Congestion Pricing Act.

Congestion pricing plan would implement tolls when entering the Central Business District of Manhattan, which is essentially Midtown from 60th Street down.

It could cost drivers an additional $23 when passing through, which is an estimated $5,000 per year per car, all in the hopes of driving cars and trucks out of the area and reducing traffic.

“If they’re going to steal more money from our families, the idea that they’re also going to try to take federal tax dollars people pay is outrageous. So, they’ll lose their federal subsidies that they get every single year,” Gottheimer said.

Gotthiemer was describing just one part of the Anti-Congestion Pricing Act, which would prohibit federal capital investment grants from going towards the MTA until drivers receive any tax exemption for congestion pricing, and also rewrite the tax code to give drivers who go through those tolls a federal tax credit.

At an unrelated press conference on Thursday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul showed unwavering support for congestion pricing.

“It is moving on the path forward. We are not deterred by people holding press conferences, I assure you,” Hochul said.

Across the Hudson River at another press conference, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he can’t get behind double-taxing New Jersey drivers.

“If you had a reliable one-seat ride that you knew would be on time into Manhattan on a train or a bus that flew through on a bus lane that went to a state-of-the-art bus terminal, that would be one thing. But we don’t have that yet,” Murphy said.

Congestion pricing is hoped to reduce pollution from cars in the city, but those in opposition believe it will only shift traffic to places like the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, possibly increasing air pollution.

“But to just add a toll is going to shift where congestion is. It will shift if to Fort Lee. It will shift it to the Bronx. It will shift it to Queens, and those are low-income communities already hurt by congestion in their communities,” Lawler said.

The MTA’s chief of external relations, John J. McCarthy said in a statement, in part, “Anyone serious about the environment and reducing gridlock understands that congestion pricing is good for the environment, good for getting fire trucks, buses and delivery vehicles through the city, and good for the 90% of people who depend on mass transit.”

The congressmen and Murphy are calling on the Biden administration to conduct an environmental impact study on congestion pricing before moving forward.

There is still no exact date on when congestion pricing would start, even though it was approved in 2019.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said New York’s senior senator has already discussed the issue at the federal level and hopes that all the parties can come to a consensus.