Local congressmen blast NYC's congestion pricing plan, MTA jabs back

Monday, December 4, 2023
Battle over MTA's congestion pricing plan heats up
N.J. Burkett has more on the ongoing debate over congestion pricing.

CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) -- The battle over New York's congestion pricing is heating up after a group of politicians from New York and New Jersey on Monday, blasted the MTA's plan, saying it would kill New York City.

The MTA's proposal would charge most drivers $15 to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street, but lawmakers say its simply bad for business and could cause visitors to hit the breaks on coming to the city.

Twenty miles from their district offices to a sidewalk on the Lower East Side, Bergen County Congressman Josh Gottheimer and Rockland County Congressman Mike Lawler held a press conference with a restaurant owner who's furious over congestion pricing.

"This is going to kill New York City at a time where New York needs people to come in, where we need the revenue, we need to pay taxes, we need to help support our city," said Julio Pena of II Posto Accanto.

Lawler called it a "joke," and a "money grab."

"It's a scam, and it's going to hurt commuters and small business owners like Julio across the board," he said.

In the public relations battle over congestion pricing, both sides are determined to seize the offensive.

"I think the idea that small business is going to be crushed is absurd," said NYC Transit Authority President Richard Davey.

Speaking at an event in Queens, where entry gates intended to prevent fare beating was unveiled, Davey defended congestion pricing.

"I think most businesses, their customers actually take public transportation," Davey said.

Then he hit back.

"This is a little bit of what annoys me with the congressman from New Jersey, in particular, who seems to drive over, complain about congestion, and go back home," Davey said. "It's about improving public transit for New Yorkers and New Jerseyans who come to New York. So that's my answer. But, you know, the dude wants to see congestion? I welcome him anytime in Hell's Kitchen during rush hour. Happy to show him around."

But Lawler and Gottheimer insist that transit options are limited for many of their constituents, even if they wanted to take buses and trains.

"People like a nurse or an electrician who have to work very hard and work different hours or have no options, have to drive in," Gottheimer said. "They have no choice."

All the more reason, says Davey, for New Jersey to invest more in mass transit.

"I encourage the congressman to look at his own, you know, transit that he's responsible for getting money for, and think about investing in it," Davey said.


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