MTA’s ‘crossing credits’ do not include those who enter N.Y. on G.W. Bridge

Gottheimer on latest pricing updates: It confirms our worst nightmare

The MTA‘s Traffic Mobility Review Board on Monday presented five different scenarios for how it would give “crossing credits” when the congestion pricing rules go into effect — potentially as soon as May of 2024.

But, if you’re looking for clarity — it didn’t provide that.

Here are the three most important things:

  • Drivers from New Jersey could get a $4 discount (“crossing credit,” as the MTA is calling it);
  • The actual trip could cost $9 to $23 now, depending on all the variables (discussed further down in story); and
  • Those coming across the George Washington Bridge are not eligible for any credits.

All of this comes, in theory, with the MTA’s attempt to lower pollution and increase use of mass transit.

Does it add up?

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5th Dist.), who has been fighting against the congestion tax since the idea was first mentioned, doesn’t think so.

“New York’s newest Congestion Tax scenarios confirm our worst nightmare. It will increase toxic, cancer-causing pollutants in North Jersey, cost Jersey commuters thousands of dollars more a year to drive into Manhattan and lead to more truck and car traffic by the G.W. Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel,” he said.

“The proposed credits are a joke compared to what this will cost families every day. The credits don’t even apply to the George Washington Bridge. How can we take these scenarios seriously when New York is already putting up toll cameras that will whack Jersey drivers?”

The MTA board said Monday it is still trying to minimize exemptions to keep that base toll as low as possible and still meet revenue goals.

Here’s what it has agreed upon so far:

  • Drivers entering the Central Business District (below 60th Street, including the Lincoln and Holland tunnels) will get some type of crossing credit;
  • Drivers entering during off-peak hours (nighttime) will get a discount;
  • Taxis and for-hire vehicles (Ubers and such) will get a per-ride surcharge for their passengers;
  • There will be discounts (50% after 10 trips) for low-income commuters without transit access;
  • Commuter buses and specialized government vehicles will be exempted.

The MTA said more clarity is coming.

The six-person board will meet again next Monday.

The bigger question: Will congestion pricing lower pollution?

That’s still not clear. The MTA has said the policy could reduce the number of vehicles coming into the most congested areas by 15-20%. How many of those cars and trucks will now enter from other areas (offsetting those decreases) remains to be seen.