New York MTA Says Some Congestion Pricing Revenue Will Go to New Jersey, But Will It Be Enough?

While everyone waits for Judge Leo M. Gordon to decide whether the
proposed congestion-toll plan for Manhattan south of 60th Street has met
legal requirements, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority
(MTA) has said that some of the money that will come from the proposed
toll will go to New Jersey.
Gordon is presiding over the case brought by the State of New
Jersey and others who object to the tolling plan, which is designed to
reduce vehicle congestion in the most-crowded part of Manhattan and
raise money for MTA capital programs to support both New York City’s
transit, including subways, and the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-
North. There are similar cases in federal courts, both in New Jersey and
in Manhattan (Southern District of New York). Some officials in New
York City, particularly in Staten Island and Brooklyn, object to the
proposed toll, as do such New Jersey officials as Gov. Phil Murphy and
Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Gottheimer’s district, NJ5, includes Bergen
County, where some towns surrounding the George Washington Bridge
are concerned about increased traffic and parking demands (as are upper
Manhattan neighborhoods). Other New Jerseyans and New Yorkers
support the plan and defend federal highway officials who have been
accused of not implementing proper standards of environmental and
administrative law.
One of New Jersey’s strongest arguments is that the state will not
share in the revenue. On April 17, MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber
said: “The way all of this is determined is allocations by the number of
people who are in areas that are impacted by the truck traffic, and New
Jersey will get its share exactly on the arithmetic.” That “arithmetic”
comes out to about $155 million for environmental mitigation efforts both
in New Jersey and New York, perhaps including roadside vegetation,
parks, and green spaces.
The question remains of whether that amount will be enough
to start negotiations between the sides in the cases. It appears that
New Jersey would want more than that to drop its objections to the
plan. The Lackawanna Coalition has called for some toll money to
be directed to New Jersey to help pay for extra train service to Penn
Station and bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal for New
Jerseyans who choose to start using transit to avoid paying the new
congestion-area toll. Regarding the congestion-pricing plan itself, as
well as some of the money going to NJ Transit, Lackawanna
Coalition Chairperson Sally Jane Gellert said: “It certainly should
happen, as NJT will have increased ridership, and fares can only go
so far in covering expenses of added service.”

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