New bipartisan legislation aims to kill NYC congestion pricing

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
New bipartisan legislation aims to kill NYC congestion pricing
Anthony Johnson has the story in Lower Manhattan on congestion pricing.

LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis of New York and Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey introduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday to block congestion pricing in New York City.

The first-in-the-nation program will charge commuters up to $15 to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street. It is set to begin in June.

"I'm proud to join my colleague in introducing this legislation to not only prohibit this cash grab from coming to fruition, but show there will continue to be a united front on the city, state and federal levels should the MTA move forward with this first in the nation plan," Malliotakis said. "The MTA's war on cars is bankrupting commuters, and we will continue to use every legal and legislative tool we have to stop it."

The legislation is the latest in a series of efforts to fight the controversial program.

It's been an ongoing battle between political leaders in both New Jersey and counties outside Manhattan on one side, and the folks who run the MTA along with the governor of New York, who say the toll will help ease traffic backups and improve the environment.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in New Jersey heard oral arguments in that state's lawsuit to stop the plan.

As the fight continues, Gottheimer staged yet another action on his own Wednesday.

He went to MTA headquarters in Lower Manhattan asking for financial documents to justify the new tolls.

Gottheimer has long claimed that as a result of congestion pricing, people from New Jersey would be forced to pay the bill to fix the MTA's fiscal problems.

He has been asking for a meeting with MTA officials since January, according to email messages.

So Gottheimer came to the agency Wednesday hoping to get fiscal documents to show why the congestion toll is set at $15 and includes a possible hike on the toll in the first year plus surge pricing.

The congressman sat inside the lobby hoping for a meeting but came away empty handed.

He says the next step is to ask the House Transportation Subcommittee to call a hearing, which the head of the MTA will be required to attend since the agency does receive federal funding.

Eyewitness News asked the congressman if his trip to New York was more about theatrics than substance.

"I'm here to get documents," Gottheimer replied. "So if they had simply responded and given us the documents, I wouldn't have to come down here and try to get them myself."

There are a couple of lawsuits that could still be stumbling blocks to the start of congestion pricing.

And just last week, the head of the MTA said some money from the toll could be heading to New Jersey.

Gottheimer said Wednesday he isn't buying it.

"I think what they've been doing now for months, the MTA, is one stunt after another, coming up with more excuses, more reasons," he said. "I mean last week they said, 'Oh we'll throw you some crumbs in New Jersey,' without any specifics. They didn't say anything about how they're going to help our working families who suddenly have a $4000-a-year new tax bill."

ALSO READ | New York Congestion Pricing: What to Know

ny congestion pricing plan
FILE - Heavy traffic fills Third Avenue, in New York's Manhattan borough near the United Nations, Sept. 20, 2021.
Ted Shaffrey


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