Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island), two legislators divided by party but united by their appreciation for using a car to get into Manhattan, held a press conference today excoriating the proposed congestion pricing plan that would add a hefty fee for drivers in certain parts of New York City.
“Can you imagine a hard working nurse or Uber driver from Jersey having to pay $23 dollars a day on top of the $16 dollars they pay to go over the GW Bridge – not to mention what it costs for parking and gas?” Gottheimer said. “Just read MTA spelled backwards and it tells you exactly how the MTA looks at New Jersey right now: as their personal ATM.”
Gottheimer and Malliotakis said that they’ll introduce legislation requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General to audit the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)’s use of federal money. Gottheimer also decried what he called a “Soviet-era disinformation campaign” circulated by E-Z Pass, which has sent emails to pass holders complimenting the congestion pricing plan.
Congestion pricing has long been discussed as a way to alleviate traffic in lower Manhattan and increase revenues for public transit, but it was only agreed upon by top New York officials in 2019. Its implementation has been delayed several times, and is currently set for 2023.
The plan is viewed skeptically by New York politicians from the car-dependent outer reaches of the city, and has been near-universally condemned by New Jersey politicians, among whom Gottheimer has been by far the loudest agitator. All the funds generated by congestion pricing would go towards the MTA and other New York-based agencies, with none towards NJ Transit.
Gottheimer and Malliotakis both represent competitive congressional seats, and both are on the other party’s list of targeted incumbents this November. Each of their opponents – Frank Pallotta in New Jersey and former Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island) in New York – is unlikely to be happy about the press conference today.
But regardless of the partisan divide, Gottheimer said that he was happy to work with New York politicians who are as skeptical as he is of congestion pricing.
“When we work together, New Jersey and New York are a tough combination to beat,” he said. “The fight is just beginning.”