By Dan Alexander
As the MTA in New York moves forward with its congestion pricing plan, which will cost New Jersey drivers an extra $23 a day to go into midtown Manhattan, a New Jersey congressman is calling for federal hearings to investigate the MTA and stop the plan from being enacted.
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, said the MTA has blown $15 billion from the federal government that was given during the pandemic and they still have a multi-billion dollar deficit, so they are pressing ahead with the congestion pricing plan because they’re broke.
“I’m formally calling for both the congressional Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to acquire testimony from John Lieber, the CEO and chair of the MTA, and demand answers, under oath,” he said.
Where's the money?
Gottheimer said the MTA needs to explain what happened to all of that money they received, “and why the MTA is hitting hard-working commuters with a new congestion tax instead of getting their own house in order.”
“The MTA’s years of mismanagement and corruption have finally caught up with them and now they need the cash, and they see Jersey families and commuters as their giant ATM machine.”
He pointed out part of the responsibility of Congress is to watch the purse strings of the people’s taxpayer dollars “and this is about watching these dollars and ensuring they are used appropriately.”
He noted several MTA officials have been charged with mismanagement, accepting bribes, fraud, theft, falsifying records, skipped inspections and nepotism hiring.
“Some of these violations are outright shocking, including employees crashing and abandoning a boat, sleeping on the job, procuring a charger for a personal Tesla vehicle and venders operating as in-house consultants," Gottheimer said.
“Instead of doing anything about the corruption and mismanagement, what’s the MTA doing? Oh, just go to Jersey ... just treat us like their piggy bank once again.”
Gottheimer said what is truly “insane” is an MTA study submitted to the United States Department of Transportation concludes congestion pricing will cause traffic delays at the George Washington Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel, it will send more trucks into Northern New Jersey and the outer boroughs, and increase air pollution.
He noted the report also finds congestion pricing will disproportionally impact low-income drivers and most small businesses in New York oppose it.
A mismanaged swamp
He characterized the MTA as a “bureaucratic, mismanaged swamp” and said the time has come to get answers from the MTA, which is pouring billions of dollars “into a black hole.”
Gottheimer said on top of the “absurd congestion tax idea,” New York is now proposing an additional outrageous $50 fee for Jersey drivers to enter Manhattan because they come from what they are calling a non-cooperative state.