New Jersey Lawmakers Want To Pump The Brakes On Congestion Pricing In Manhattan

There's a last-ditch effort to pump the brakes on congestion pricing in Manhattan. Lawmakers in New Jersey say it's nothing more than a tax on commuters with many already struggling during the pandemic; CBS2's Kevin Rincon reports.

Video Transcript

DANA TYLER: Also tonight, there's a last ditch effort to pump the brakes on congestion pricing in Manhattan. Lawmakers in New Jersey say it's nothing more than a tax on commuters and many who are already struggling during the pandemic. CBS 2's Kevin Rincon is live in Fort Lee with more on this one. Kevin?

KEVIN RINCON: And Dana, just a week ago the Biden administration gave New York the green light on congestion pricing. But there's now an effort on this side of the Hudson to try to get them to reconsider.

Here in Fort Lee, tens of thousands of cars drive through the George Washington Bridge and into the city. Many are commuters from New Jersey. For them, congestion pricing means more money out of pocket.

BILL PASCRELL, JR.: This is an extra tax on our drivers. That's exactly how we're going to look at it.

KEVIN RINCON: Congressman Bill Pascrell says the cost of driving south of 60th Street in Manhattan will be about $11 to $14.

JOSH GOTTHEIMER: That's the equivalent of an average of a new tax of up to $3,000 on every New Jersey commuter, in addition to the nearly $4,000 they already pay every year to cross the bridge. It's some sort of sick joke to do this to families in the middle of a pandemic.

KEVIN RINCON: They both sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, asking he take a second look at congestion pricing. At a White House news conference, he was asked where he stands on the project.

PETE BUTTIGIEG: So this is a decision for the different parties that are all involved in that. Our responsibility mostly has to do with the environmental assessment process that goes on. We're certainly very interested to see that process unfold, but obviously there's a real challenge with congestion there and a real revenue opportunity as well.

KEVIN RINCON: Given the revenue would benefit the MTA, no surprise, they're all on board.

SARAH FEINBERG: There's going to be improved traffic, improved quality of life, improved quality of air. But you know, for anyone in New Jersey who's particularly concerned about the possibility of tolls going up, they can also ride New Jersey Transit.

KEVIN RINCON: The argument from lawmakers here is that public transit isn't an option for everyone, not to mention they'd be funding a transit agency that doesn't serve them.

JOSH GOTTHEIMER: Jersey commuters shouldn't be responsible for bailing out the MTA for their mismanagement, their failings. And they want us to stand in and bail them out? I don't think so.

BILL PASCRELL, JR.: This proposed congestion pricing scheme is a bridge too far. New Jersey must get a say in the matter.

KEVIN RINCON: And these lawmakers say if the plan does move ahead, there should be a built in exemption for New Jersey drivers, if not a federal tax break they can take advantage of at the end of the year. Live in Fort Lee, Kevin Rincon CBS2 News.

DANA TYLER: Kevin, Thanks very much.