NY, NJ Representatives Form ‘Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus’

By Matis Glenn

Aerial view of New York City illuminated by the rising sun

New York and New Jersey representatives announced a new congressional caucus Wednesday, aimed at combating New York’s planned congestion pricing plan for cars entering Midtown Manhattan.

Under the new laws, passed originally in 2019 and pushed off during the pandemic, drivers who enter Manhattan south of 60th Street will be required to pay as much as $23 daily.

New York Republican Reps. Nicole Malliotakis and Michael Lawler, along with New Jersey Reps. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat, and Republican Tom Kean Jr., made the announcement at an event close to the Lincoln Tunnel.

The group of representatives say that the move will divert traffic to other areas, limit people in suburban areas with scant access to public transportation, and take money from New Jersey residents without the Garden State getting anything in return.

“Studies have shown that Congestion Pricing would shift vehicle traffic from higher-income, more urbanized areas to lower-income, more vulnerable communities and in our case from Manhattan’s city center to the outer boroughs,” Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and a small part of Brooklyn said. She continued to say that when the city made its environmental assessment, it did not take Staten Island into account when making the determination, which she says is grounds for a lawsuit should the measures be implemented.

Gottheimer said that the new rules are a “cash grab,” and that the “woefully mismanaged” MTA is “desperately looking anywhere for cash to fill the gigantic hole they dug for themselves.” Gottheimer noted that “Not a cent of it will go to the PATH or Jersey transit to actually help our state in any way.”

Lawler, who represents Rockland County, said “Governor Hochul and the MTA’s congestion pricing scheme is a regressive tax on commuters to New York City who have no reliable mass transit options.

“I am hopeful that both the Governor and the MTA will see reason here and work with our bipartisan group to prevent this ridiculous scheme from ever going into effect,” he added.

The MTA, for its part, argues that the Manhattan is the most traffic-heavy city in the country, and that the tolls would alleviate traffic and cut carbon emissions.  “Yesterday it was reported that New York City has the most traffic congestion of any city across the United States,” MTA external affairs chief John McCarthy told the New York Post. “and incredibly today, we have members of Congress driving into midtown Manhattan trying to make sure those traffic problems remain.

“The bottom line is that reducing car and truck traffic 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.”

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