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MTA must ‘come clean’ about how much NYC congestion toll would rake in ‘on backs’ of families: NJ Rep. Josh Gottheimer

by Staff

A New Jersey congressman challenged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to “come clean” Thursday about how much money New York will rake in from its planned congestion toll in Manhattan.

Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer demanded “transparency” over the $15 toll for drivers entering Midtown Manhattan as he accused MTA bosses of covering up key revenue-raising details of the plan, which Empire State transit officials have projected could bring in $1 billion per year.

“Why won’t the MTA just come clean about the congestion tax?” Gottheimer said at a press conference in Fort Lee. “Why won’t they tell us exactly how much revenue they’re going to make every year on the backs of hardworking families and commuters?”

Here’s the latest on NYC’s congestion pricing

New York City’s $15 congestion toll to drive south of 60th Street could begin as soon as mid-June, a lawyer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said this week.

Transit officials predict the toll could raise $1 billion per year, which would fund major upgrades to the MTA’s subway, commuter railroads and bus systems.

This would be the nation’s first congestion pricing fee system, which has prompted multiple lawsuits, including from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, the teachers’ union and 18 New York lawmakers.

The labor coalition representing New York City’s nearly 400,000 government workers has also backed Murphy’s federal lawsuit.

Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams refused to support the state’s controversial congestion pricing proposal. Adams said he believes the city should have had more “power and control” over the situation, which likely would have resulted in a “different version.”

City Hall has been pushing the MTA to include exemptions from the toll for city employees and people driving to hospitals.

The congressman claimed the MTA was keeping a tight-lid on the toll’s projected revenue because it would likely rake in much more than the $1 billion estimate.

“Will it raise $1 billion as it’s legally required, or more?” Gottheimer said. “They refuse to come clean. For me, that’s a massive red flag.”

The congressman said that after repeated — yet unsuccessful — calls for “transparency” from the MTA, he filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law to get the agency to turn over any data, calculations and emails that went into calculating the revenue projections.

“We deserve to know if they’re going to start whacking our families with the congestion tax, charging us thousands of dollars a year. We deserve to have all the facts. But everything at the MTA, as you have probably figured out, is a black box,” he said.

US Congressman Josh Gottheimer announces new action to highlight what he claims is NY cover-up on the proposed Congestion Tax. Robert Miller
Gottheimer ripped the toll for being “insanely high.” Christopher Sadowski

Under the controversial plan that aims to curb peak-day congestion, the MTA would hit drivers with a $15 daily toll if they come into Manhattan’s central business district below 60th Street.

Gottheimer, who is among a cohort of Congress members from both New York and New Jersey who are fighting the proposed tax, ripped the toll as “insanely high.”

“I’m talking about real, old school shellacking – up to $22.50 a day for cars, $5,850 a year, depending on whether they’re using EZPass or not,” he said.

The congestion pricing plan, passed by the state legislature in 2019, would charge drivers $15 per day for driving south of 60th Street in Manhattan. Christopher Sadowski

“That’s on top of $17-a-day tolls you’re paying for the bridges and tunnels, plus the cost of gas and parking. In a year, that can cost families up to $10,000 just to commute every day into New York City.”

A lawyer for the MTA revealed recently that the toll could start as soon as mid-June after facing years of delays and a slew of lawsuits, including from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, the teachers’ union and 18 New York lawmakers.

Transit officials have said the revenue raised from the tax would be used to fund $15 billion in bonds to pay for major upgrades to the MTA’s subway, commuter railroads and bus systems.

Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer demanded “transparency” over the congestion pricing toll as he accused MTA bosses of covering up key details of the plan. Robert Miller

Meanwhile, MTA Chief of External Relations John McCarthy clapped back at Gottheimer’s criticism on Thursday, accusing the congressman of failing to solve the Garden State’s own transit problems.

“While the MTA dramatically increased service while cutting its budget, Gridlock Gottheimer hasn’t lifted a finger to fix his NJ Transit’s service problems and collapsing financial situation. So much for being a ‘problem solver,’” McCarthy said in a statement.

“While the MTA was completing the Second Avenue Subway, Grand Central Madison, East Side Access, ADA upgrades across the subway system and state-of-the-industry signaling on the L and 7 lines, Rep. Gottheimer complains about New York’s progress while failing to get transit done on his own side of the river.”

Additional reporting by Nolan Hicks

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