The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is taking an active stance against New Jersey’s opposition to its congestion pricing program.
On Friday, October 6th, the MTA approached a federal court in New Jersey, asking to team up with the United States government in countering a lawsuit initiated by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
This lawsuit, filed against the U.S. Department of Transportation, contends that the MTA’s environmental assessment for their congestion pricing program was insufficiently evaluated.
Murphy argues that the evaluation was merely a “rubber stamp” and did not adequately address the potential rise in congestion in New Jersey from motorists seeking more affordable crossings.
Court filings from the MTA alleged that New Jersey aimed to dismantle the tolling program completely.
The documents state, “New Jersey’s ultimate aim is clear: to prevent implementation of a landmark program mandated by New York state law.”
They further suggest that while New Jersey claims to support the congestion pricing concept, its primary concern is the perceived loss of revenue.
Designed to be rolled out by next May, the MTA’s congestion pricing initiative could see drivers paying as much as $23 to access parts of Manhattan during peak commuting times. This program aims to raise $1 billion annually, which will be channeled into the MTA’s transit system enhancements.
However, New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer criticized the agency for downplaying the plan’s negative impacts on New Jersey residents.
He expressed concerns about a rise in air pollution that could harm children and families and mentioned that the congestion tax could shift pollution to other areas.
Gottheimer said, “The MTA is going to have to set up an asthma treatment program.”
Governor Kathy Hochul and the MTA contend the congestion pricing scheme will be precedent-setting for the country and significantly reduce New York City’s carbon emissions.
Highlighting its significance, a spokesperson for Governor Hochul, John Lindsay, stated, “This lawsuit is seeking to block one of the nation’s most progressive climate actions, and we will not allow it to derail critical investments that the region deserves.”
Former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed congestion pricing into law in 2019.
The MTA has undertaken extensive studies to alleviate concerns and ensure a positive environmental impact, though some traffic increase is anticipated in the Cross Bronx Expressway and Bergen County.
To address potential concerns, the agency plans measures like replacing refrigeration trucks, enhancing Bronx greenery, and installing air filters in nearby schools.