Gov. Phil Murphy reacts after MTA review board lays out different scenarios for congestion pricing

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
NJ officials say NYC's congestion pricing could change flow of traffic
The new congestion pricing rules for New York City are set to go into effect in May and NJ officials argue it will change traffic across the Hudson. Anthony Johnson has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Congestion pricing will not go into effect until Spring 2024 at the earliest, but it is causing a contentious debate across the Tri-State area now.

The MTA's Traffic Mobility Board laid out four scenarios on Monday, but none of them will fully reimburse the cost of tolls for New Jersey commuters.

"This proposed tolling program remains a fundamentally flawed and unjust scheme to balance the MTA's budget at the expense of hardworking New Jerseyans," Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. "We will continue to fight this unfair tolling program on behalf of our commuters and residents."

Despite the partial victory of some congestion pricing crossing credits, New Jerseyans are not all pleased. None of the four scenarios presented fully reimburse the cost of the toll, and they only apply to the tunnels leading directly into the congestion pricing zone and not the George Washington Bridge.

Some say giving a credit to drivers using the Lincoln and Holland tunnels means they will become more congested and bring more traffic to places like Jersey City, whose mayor is taking a wait-and-see approach.

"I would suspect that the plan is going to change several times before it is actually implemented on who's exempt, who's not exempt, where the traffic goes," said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

Leading the charge to ease the pain on New Jersey drivers is Congressman Josh Gottheimer.

"You're going to push all the truck traffic and the pollution to the GW Bridge, overflow car traffic because of the discount at the two tunnels," Gottheimer said.

The board met Monday, but it has not yet decided what the base toll will be for congestion pricing. It's still trying to minimize exemptions to keep that base toll as low as possible and still meet revenue goals.

However, the board laid out four different congestion pricing scenarios and all of them have several factors in common.

Here's what they agreed on so far:

  • Drivers entering the Central Business District, that's below 60th Street, via a tunnel will get some type of crossing credit.
  • Those would be the Queens Midtown Tunnel, the Battery Tunnel and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. The East River bridges in that area would not get a credit because they don't have tolls so this would be sort of an equalizer on the East River to minimize people rerouting to avoid the tolls, and the George Washington Bridge wouldn't get a credit because it's not in the Central Business District.

  • The board has also agreed upon nighttime discounts for driving into the congestion pricing zone during off-peak hours.
  • Taxis and for-hire vehicles will get a per-ride surcharge.
  • Commuter buses will be exempted.
  • Specialized government vehicles will be exempted.
  • There will be discounts (50% after 10) for low-income commuters without transit access.
  • The board is expected to make a recommendation on a tolling structure this month before the new congestion pricing rules go into effect in May.

    Once in place, drivers will have to pay an extra toll if they enter Manhattan below 60th Street.

    Those toll prices could range from $9 to as much as $23.

    "We certainly don't want it to be $23 dollars," said Carl Weisbrod, Chair of the TMRB. "And we want to keep it as far below that as we can get it, that's what we want to do."

    The plan is getting a lot of backlash from groups like rideshare drivers and commuters from outer boroughs and New Jersey.

    Rideshare passengers already pay a $2.75 congestion fee.

    Murphy said New Jersey drivers who pay a toll at Port Authority crossings should be exempt from congestion pricing.

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