RELEASE: Gottheimer Highlights Hidden ‘Port Authority Punishment’ From the MTA’s Congestion Tax — Potential $1.25 Billion Revenue Loss for Port Authority Projects — Could Lead to $2 Toll Increases & Massive Impact on Capital Projects

Feb 23, 2023
Press

Potential $1.25 Billion Revenue Loss for Port Authority Projects

Could Lead to $2 Toll Increases & Massive Impact on Capital Projects

Airports, Bus Terminal, PATH Train

Above: Gottheimer highlights how the MTA’s Congestion Tax will have a hidden impact on Port Authority tolls and projects.

FORT LEE, NJ — Today, February 23, 2023, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined with local elected officials next to the George Washington Bridge to announce how the MTA’s Congestion Tax could have a massive negative impact on Port Authority revenue for key capital projects and could lead to potential $2 toll increases over the GW Bridge, Holland and Lincoln Tunnels.

When you include this new toll, the Congestion Tax could cost Jersey and New York drivers up to $25 dollars a day — more than $5,500 a year to drive to work or visit New York City south of 60th Street. This is on top of the $17-a-day tolls for bridge and tunnel crossings into New York. 

According to the MTA’s own projections and publicly available data, with fewer cars going south of 60th Street from their Congestion Tax, the Port Authority could lose around $125 million a year from fewer drivers using the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel, and the Holland Tunnel — more than $1.25 billion in lost revenue over the next decade. To make up lost revenue, it could mean a $2 or more toll increase — a hidden tax — to go over the George Washington Bridge or through the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels — on top of the current $17 daily toll. That would send Congestion Tax costs up to $25 a day total — or a new $5,500-per-year tax for hardworking families. 

Additionally, this lost $125 million a year for the Port Authority — more than $1.25 billion over a decade — will have a huge impact on Port Authority’s capital projects that benefit New Jersey residents and our entire region.

Port Authority Capital Projects that could be impacted by the MTA’s Congestion Tax include:  

  • Renovating the nearly 100-year-old George Washington Bridge to fix suspension cables.
  • Replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix, which is more than 80 years old.
  • Resources to upgrade the PATH train. 
  • Repairs to runways, terminals, and Air Trains at Newark, La Guardia, and JFK airports — travel hubs that are critical to our economy and regular travel for Jersey families.
    • Newark consistently ranks at the bottom of all major airports in overall satisfaction. This lost revenue that the MTA is stealing would be used to improve these airports — helping reduce wait times and boost quality. 
  • The Port Wharf Replacement Program to replace waterfront structures needed for handling cargo at five port facilities — three in New Jersey and two in New York.
    • This project is critical to our supply chain and would help our ports move goods quicker. 
  • Renovating the Port Authority Bus Terminal — which opened in 1950 and is in need of critical updates.

“Today, I want to bring a new fact to light. According to the MTA’s own projections, in their federal reporting, and if what they say is true and fewer cars go south of 60th Street, the Port Authority stands to lose around $125 million a year — more than $1.25 billion over the next decade in lost revenue. What does that mean for the folks left with no other choice but to drive to work? Or those going to New York City for a doctor’s appointment, to shop, or see family? To make up lost revenue, it could mean a $2 or more toll increase — a hidden tax — to go over the GW Bridge here or through the Holland or Lincoln — on top of the $17 a day. That would send the Congestion Tax up from $23 to $25 a day total — or $5,500 a year for hardworking families. When you add gas and parking, that’s more than $20,000 a year lost in after-tax income just to drive to work,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “The MTA is literally robbing Peter to pay Paul to boost revenue for the MTA. I’m calling on the MTA to back down now, find another solution to its financial woes that doesn’t squeeze more blood out of the Jersey stone.”

“The MTA has a budget problem that it wants the people of New Jersey to pay, but we can’t afford to pay the problem that they have. Congressman Gottheimer has been here in leadership, and we think the federal government is the right place for somebody to say to New York City, ‘cut it out,’” said Executive Director of the Fair Congestion Pricing Alliance Ron Simoncini.

Gottheimer recently announced his Anti-Congestion Tax Act with New York Republican Congressman Mike Lawler and New Jersey Republican Congressman Jeff Van Drew. 

The bipartisan Anti-Congestion Tax Act will:

  • Prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from awarding any new Capital Investment Grants to MTA projects in New York until drivers from all New Jersey and New York crossings into Manhattan receive exemptions from any Congestion Tax. 
  • Amend the U.S. tax code to offer commuters a federal tax credit at the end of the year equal to the amount they paid in a Congestion Tax. This will protect both New Jersey and New York drivers.

Gottheimer was joined today in Fort Lee by Assemblywoman Shama Haider, Fort Lee Councilman Bryan Drumgoole, and Executive Director of the Fair Congestion Pricing Alliance Ron Simoncini.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

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Above: Gottheimer highlights how the MTA’s Congestion Tax will have a hidden impact on Port Authority tolls and projects.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

We are back here in Fort Lee this afternoon, just a few feet from the George Washington Bridge, where, if New York has its way, Jersey commuters and those from the outer boroughs will be paying a new $23-dollar-a-day Congestion Tax when they cross over it and go to work in the City. 

Whether it’s restoring SALT or stopping the outrageous Congestion Tax, I’m for lowering taxes and making life more affordable for our families.

Nearly 300,000 cars and trucks cross over this bridge every day, helping bring New York City billions in tax revenue and billions more for their small businesses every year. More than a million commuters go into work in Manhattan from the outer boroughs and outside the city. According to studies, nearly seven in ten people employed in Manhattan commuted from another county. 

We’ve been talking about this new $5,000-a-year Congestion Tax hitting these commuters for months and months now. The MTA admitted, in their own reporting, that the Congestion Tax won’t solve congestion or ease pollution. It will just shift car traffic and pollution from here to the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and drive more trucks over this bridge and to the outer boroughs — adding new plumes of noxious chemicals here and to lower-income families. This new Congestion Tax will hurt the city’s small businesses, which is why they’re so strongly opposed, and it will dwarf their attempt to draw workers back. 

I’ve noticed the MTA is starting to backpedal as the facts of their own reports have been brought to light. But, page after page, the facts are ugly.

The MTA is so bureaucratic and such a mismanaged agency riddled with corruption that a judge described it as an “orgy of overtime fraud.” Studies show they lost $500 million to fare skippers last year.

This Congestion Tax is meant to help stop the bleeding of the billions they’re losing every year.

And every nickel of this new tax goes to the MTA — nothing to NJ Transit or a single road in New Jersey. It’s the ultimate cash grab for the MTA.

You didn’t think it could get worse for Jersey families. But it does. Today, I want to bring a new fact to light. According to the MTA’s own projections, in their federal reporting, and if what they say is true and fewer cars go south of 60th Street, the Port Authority stands to lose around $125 million dollars a year — more than $1.25 billion dollars over the next decade in lost revenue. What does that mean for the folks left with no other choice but to drive to work? Or those going to New York City for a doctor’s appointment, to shop, or see family? 

To make up lost revenue, it could mean a $2 dollar or more toll increase — a hidden tax — to go over the GW bridge here or through the Holland or Lincoln — on top of the $17 dollars a day. That would send the Congestion Tax up from $23 to $25 dollars a day total — or $5,500 a year for hardworking families. When you add gas and parking, that’s more than $20,000 a year lost in after-tax income just to drive to work. 

On top of that, this lost $125 million a year for the Port Authority, more than $1.25 billion over the next decade, will have a huge impact on Port Authority’s capital projects that benefit New Jersey residents and our entire region. A region that’s home to 20 percent of our nation’s GDP. The MTA is literally robbing Peter to pay Paul to boost revenue for the MTA. 

What’s in the Port Authority’s capital plan? What projects will the MTA stop to line their own pockets — as part of this Port Authority Punishment? 

The Port Authority’s capital plan includes projects like renovating the nearly 100 years old George Washington Bridge to fix its suspension cables. It includes replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix which is more than 80 years old, and resources to upgrade the PATH train. Yes, that’s public transit, and the commutes will be longer and more difficult because the MTA’s Congestion Tax could stop these projects.

The capital plan includes repairs to runways, terminals, and Air Trains at Newark, La Guardia, and JFK airports — travel hubs that are critical to our economy and regular travel for Jersey families. 

I know so many here in Jersey are unhappy with our airports. Newark in particular consistently ranks at the bottom of all major airports in overall satisfaction — taking into consideration facilities and on-time performance.  The money that the MTA is stealing from the Port Authority would literally be used to improve these airports — helping reduce wait times and boost quality. But the MTA’s Congestion Tax could stop this project. 

The capital plan includes the Port Wharf Replacement Program to replace waterfront structures needed for handling cargo at five port facilities — three in New Jersey and two in New York. We saw massive backups during the pandemic at our ports — and it led to a supply chain crisis. This project would help our ports be able to move goods quicker. But the MTA’s Congestion Tax could stop this project.   

And, something close to home here, it includes projects to renovate the Port Authority Bus Terminal — something I know that all of us have been waiting for. It opened way back in 1950 and is in need of critical updates. We now won’t have the resources to fix the bus terminal because the MTA’s Congestion Tax could stop this project. 

To make this crystal clear, if the MTA and New York get their way, there could be a billion-dollar hole in funding for critical projects across New Jersey. 

These renovations and repairs and ongoing projects will take years to complete — and they will be stopped or slowed down by the Congestion Tax gutting revenue to the Port Authority.

The bottom line — the costs of the Congestion Tax are steeper than all of us initially thought. 

That’s why in Congress, I’m fighting against this ridiculous Congestion Tax — with both Republicans and Democrats. New York Republican Congressman Mike Lawler and I, along with New Jersey Republican Jeff Van Drew, have introduced new bipartisan federal legislation — the Anti-Congestion Tax Act — to help ensure New Jersey and New York drivers who commute into New York City are not hit with this regressive, punitive Congestion Tax.

Our Anti-Congestion Tax legislation will freeze federal dollars sent each year to the MTA — which totals approximately $2 billion a year — if the agency insists on barreling ahead with this $23-dollar-a-day tax. 

The bipartisan Anti-Congestion Tax will prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from awarding any new Capital Investment Grants to MTA projects in New York until drivers from all New Jersey and outer borough New York crossings into Manhattan receive exemptions from any Congestion Tax. 

And it will amend the U.S. tax code to offer commuters a federal tax credit at the end of the year equal to the amount they paid in a Congestion Tax. This will protect both Jersey and New York drivers from this absurd new tax.

I’m calling on the MTA to back down now, find another solution to its financial woes that doesn’t squeeze more blood out of the Jersey stone. 

Our commuters aren’t your piggy bank. And to New York businesses — I urge you to call Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams and let them know just how terrible the Congestion Tax will be for your bottom line. The same goes for families in New York living in outer boroughs and here in Fort Lee and across Bergen County where trucks will pollute our air — call the MTA.

And folks living north of 60th street who will be crushed with traffic — call the MTA. And all commuters in Jersey and New York who can’t afford what could now be an extra $25 dollars to drive to work — Call the MTA.

When we work together, New Jersey and New York are a tough combination to beat. Look at how well we’ve cooperated for more than a hundred years at the Port Authority.  

But, from the way it looks, the MTA is going to force us to continue to fight.

Thank you again and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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