No time to wait: Gottheimer sends Hochul letter on congestion tax during her first week on job

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer — concerned that a proposed congestion tax could increase the cost of commuting into New York by approximately $3,000 — sent an open letter to New York’s new governor, Kathy Hochul, asking her to oppose the proposed Manhattan congestion tax.

The letter highlights how the proposed congestion tax not only would add the approximately $3,000 per year cost on top of the roughly $4,000 toll that New Jersey commuters already pay to enter New York City via the George Washington Bridge, but not a penny of the proceeds would help New Jersey Transit or New Jersey infrastructure.

“New York City’s proposed congestion tax would endanger the economic recovery of the New York metropolitan region, add further expense to the already sky-high cost of commuting into New York City, and comes at a time when MTA has received billions in federal transit aid,” Gottheimer (D-5th Dist.) wrote.

“For these reasons, I urge you to oppose the proposed tax — or at least work to ensure hard-working New Jerseyans do not bear the brunt of it — to continue our states’ decades-long relationship of cooperation.”

In the letter, Gottheimer posed the following questions:

  • In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation determined that an Environmental Assessment was the appropriate next step for the proposed congestion tax. As part of that March announcement, the department stated that the EA process was “designed to ensure involvement of stakeholders from throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.” To date, however, no public hearings or meetings with New Jersey officials or residents have occurred. What is the MTA’s plan to involve New Jersey residents in the EA process?
  • Legislation passed by the New York Legislature in 2019 established a “Traffic Mobility Review Board,” to be comprised of a chair and five members, to make various recommendations regarding the congestion tax. What is the status of the formation of this board? When will members be appointed, and when will the board begin to make its recommendations?
  • The Traffic Mobility Review Board is tasked with recommending a plan for “credits, discounts and/or exemptions” from the congestion tax. However, there have been reports that agreements have been reached regarding exemptions from or credits toward the congestion tax, including for commuters using certain crossings into Manhattan. Have decisions been made or agreements reached regarding congestion tax exemptions or credits? If so, what are the components of those decisions and/or agreements?