New Jersey’s Attempt to Block Congestion Pricing Falls ThroughNovember 19, 2023
My neighbors across the Hudson River have gone too far, and it’s time for New York to fight fire with fire. As a representative of the great state of New York, I feel compelled to address the fact that legal actions and legislation from New Jersey elected officials could pose a serious threat to the future of New York’s public transit systems. The efforts to undermine New York’s congestion pricing program — a first-of-its-kind solution in the nation — by Gov. Phil Murphy and certain members of the New Jersey congressional delegation could place New York’s transportation infrastructure in jeopardy, potentially undermining funding for critically needed upgrades and expansions required by our transit systems. New York’s subways, buses, and commuter rail systems are relied upon not only by the vast majority of commuters from our state, but also by the vast majority of commuters from New Jersey. Murphy and members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation are fighting congestion pricing to appease a small number of wealthier constituents who choose to commute by car, ignoring the needs of the 77.5% of commuters from New Jersey who use public transportation. The congestion pricing program not only will improve air quality in the region and reduce the economy-stifling traffic congestion in Manhattan’s central business district, but will also generate $15 billion in revenue, more than 25% of the funding for the MTA Capital Plan. The MTA’s Capital Plan is a visionary blueprint for modernizing our public transportation systems to enhance accessibility, capacity, and efficiency. It will pay for the installation of ADA-accessible elevators in our subway system, for projects like the Second Ave. subway and Penn Access, which will expand access for low-income communities of color. It will pay for the replacement of outdated equipment and switches, to reduce service delays and disruptions. In short, the Capital Plan will ensure that the public transit system that is the lifeblood of our region can continue to function. Murphy’s actions could have serious consequences for this capital plan. He has filed a federal lawsuit against the Federal Highway Administration, which oversaw the exhaustive environmental review of the program. While I have every confidence that the courts will sustain the program, the lawsuit could result in a significant delay of the program. In an even more misguided effort to stop congestion pricing, New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer introduced legislation known as the Anti-Congestion Tax Act, to prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from awarding any new capital investment grants to MTA projects in New York until drivers from New Jersey into Manhattan receive exemptions from any congestion pricing fees. Introducing legislation to withhold critical funding from the largest public transit system in the nation, which the majority of commuters from his own district rely on, is incredibly dangerous and entirely foolish. I cannot stand by and allow the actions of New Jersey elected officials to threaten our public transit system. If these elected officials are willing to hold hostage and jeopardize such important regional programs, they can expect New York to fight back. New Jersey has been pushing for years to re-develop the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, a project that will create significant disruption and enormous expense to New York. New Jersey is pushing for expansion of Penn Station to service NJTransit that will create disruption and expense in New York, and New York has been a generous partner. But if New Jersey elected officials threaten to withhold funding for our critically needed projects, why would I continue to support theirs? If New Jersey is demanding full toll credits for their residents, why wouldn’t New York demand the same for New Yorkers paying tolls on New Jersey roads? I urge the governor and New Jersey’s congressional delegation to consider the impact of their actions on the largest public transit system in the nation — a system that New York and New Jersey residents rely on every day. The MTA Capital Plan represents a lifeline for millions of riders from across the region who depend on public transit to get to work and school, and access essential services like health care. New York and New Jersey share a unique bond — we rely on the same regional mass transit system. If we don’t take steps to maintain that system, including the implementation of congestion pricing to generate funding, millions of commuters will be faced with increasingly bad delays and disruptions to service. By backing congestion pricing together, we can build a brighter future for my constituents by investing in the collective well-being of our region. Nadler’s Manhattan congressional district, from roughly 14th St. to 100th St., includes much of the congestion zone south of 60th St.