RELEASE: Gottheimer Releases New Congressional Report on New York’s Congestion Tax

Jan 05, 2024
Press

Congestion Tax Estimated to Generate $3.4 Billion/Year — Three Times NY’s Legally Mandated $1 Billion Target

New York and MTA Could Exempt all NJ crossings from the Congestion Tax and Still Raise $1.4 Billion

Gottheimer Asks to Sit Down with MTA Chairman

Above: Gottheimer announcing new Congressional Report on NY’s Congestion Tax.

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ — Today, January 4, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) released a new Congressional Report on New York’s proposed Congestion Tax. It’s based on a detailed study and analysis of the MTA’s announcement this past December with the specifics of their pricing scheme. The Congestion Tax will increase commuter costs, congestion, and cancer-causing pollution in New Jersey and the outer boroughs. Gottheimer also requested a meeting with MTA Chairman Janno Lieber to discuss the findings.

The major finding is that the MTA is estimated to generate $3.4 billion in a year from the Congestion Tax, well above the $1 billion objective required by New York’s State Legislature. The report also shows that mathematically, the MTA could exempt all New Jersey crossings from the Congestion Tax and still raise its target $1 billion. 

The calculation uses the bottom end of the MTA’s potential pricing (without surge pricing and toll increases, including credits, assuming all trucks are priced as small size and all vehicles will use EZ-Pass, and using the MTA’s assumption of a 17 percent decrease in traffic entering the Congestion Zone).

THE FULL REPORT CAN BE FOUND HERE.

Key Findings from Gottheimer’s Congressional Report on NY’s Congestion Tax:

  • The Congestion Tax is estimated to raise $3.4 billion in a year, three times the New York State Legislature’s required $1 billion objective.
  • Even if the MTA doesn’t charge a nickel to those using New Jersey crossings into the Central Business District (60th Street via George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, and Holland Tunnel), the Congestion Tax is estimated to raise $1.4 billion in a year. That’s $400 million above its target. Mathematically, the MTA could — and should — exempt all New Jersey crossings from the Congestion Tax and still raise its target $1 billion.
  • Through current tolls to cross the Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, George Washington Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, Goethals Bridge, and Outerbridge Crossing, New York already made $1.8 billion in 2022 from these New Jersey to New York crossings.
  • Per the MTA’s current proposal, the Congestion Tax will cost New Jersey and New York drivers up to $24.75 a day — nearly $6,500 a year — on top of the $17-a-day tolls for bridges and tunnels and the cost of gas and parking, just to drive south of 60th Street in New York City.
  • On a Gridlock Alert Day, at the MTA’s sole discretion, a driver entering into the Central Business District will pay up to 25 percent more or $30.94 a day in “Surge Pricing.” 
  • The MTA, by their own authority, can raise the Congestion Tax by 10 percent in 2024 — up to $16.50 a day and more than $20 on Gridlock Alert Days.
  • The Congestion Tax will likely result in a $830 million loss to the Port Authority capital projects in infrastructure investment over the next decade, directly damaging mass transit in the region, such as renovating the Port Authority Bus Terminal, replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix, and repairing the George Washington Bridge suspension cables.
  • Not only will the Congestion Tax push trucks to the George Washington Bridge, but the price difference will force more cars to back up at the tunnels. The MTA’s proposed pricing scheme encourages toll shopping. The MTA has setup a scheme where certain crossings are more expensive than others. The Holland Tunnel and Lincoln Tunnel are provided a $5 discount on the Congestion Tax; the George Washington Bridge receives none. As a result, this will attract more truck traffic to the bridge to avoid the Congestion Tax zone, causing more truck polluting emission into Northern New Jersey, and forcing more car commuters to the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels to seek lower daily costs.

“So, now that we know what the MTA is planning to charge for the Congestion Tax, it begs the question, just how much revenue will New York and the MTA generate for themselves from the Congestion. We know they aren’t planning to give a nickel to Jersey. When you run the numbers, New York’s proposed Congestion Tax scheme will likely raise $3.4 billion dollars — three times the $1 billion dollar objective as required by New York State Law,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).

Gottheimer continued, “New York can fully exempt all cars and trucks from the Congestion Tax entering the South of 60th Street via the George Washington Bridge, and Holland and Lincoln Tunnels — and still raise $1.4 billion dollars a year. That’s $400 million dollars above their legally mandated target. In other words, there is no reason New Jersey drivers can’t be exempt from the Congestion Tax. Instead of making Jersey pay for the MTA’s woeful mismanagement, New Yorkers can pay for New York’s MTA problem.”

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Gottheimer was joined by NJ Assemblywoman Shama Haider and Englewood Cliffs Councilman David Di Gregorio.

Below: Gottheimer announcing new Congressional Report on NY’s Congestion Tax.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Happy New Year and thank you all for being here in Englewood Cliffs. 

We’re here this morning to release a new Congressional Report on New York’s proposed Congestion Tax. It’s based on a detailed study and analysis of the MTA’s announcement this past December with the specifics of their pricing scheme. 

Our findings on the extent of New York’s greed are astonishing and galling, but also present an opportunity for Jersey drivers.   

For those of you who don’t know, in just a few months, New York and their woefully mismanaged mass transit agency, the MTA, are planning to stick it to hard-working Jersey and New York commuters with a Congestion Tax just to drive south of 60th Street in Manhattan. As you drive into New York City, there will be sensors and cameras overhead, many of which are already installed, and they’ll charge your EZ-Pass or via your license plate. 

For years, alongside Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey and New York, I’ve been proud to help lead the charge against the anti-commuter, anti-environment, and anti-business Congestion Tax. My Congressional Report studied and provides a detailed analysis on those topics, especially the MTA’s pricing and revenue scheme.

Just as a refresher on the MTA’s December pricing announcement, which is out for comment right now: The Congestion Tax will cost New Jersey and New York drivers — cars not trucks — up to $22.50 a day — $5,850 a year, depending on if they are using an EZ Pass or not. That’s on top of the $17-a-day tolls you already pay for the bridges and tunnels – plus the cost of gas and parking. In a year, that can cost you up to $10,000 dollars to commute every day into New York City – that’s after-tax dollars. Try being a nurse or first responder or laborer or restaurant worker and pay that every day. 

Now, under the MTA’s pricing, there is a discount on the Congestion Tax if you use the Holland and Lincoln Tunnel – but no discount at the George Washington Bridge. 

Here’s also what’s getting lost in the shuffle. The $22.50 a day Congestion Tax is a base price without an EZ-Pass.

Here’s where it gets interesting. And again, I detail this in my Congressional Report. There are also a series of hidden fees that the MTA slyly slipped into the pricing.

First, New York can declare any day it wants a Gridlock Alert Day – think of it as surge pricing – that lets the MTA charge a driver heading into the Congestion Zone 25 percent more. Yes, 25 percent on any day. Insane. That would turn the $22.50 a day to more than $28 bucks a day. If you use an EZ-Pass and go south of 60th Street after going over the George Washington Bridge, it would turn the $15 to $18.75.  

Then, in their December announcement, the MTA also gave themselves the authority to raise the Congestion Tax by 10 percent in 2024. 

Let’s presume they’ll do that – otherwise they wouldn’t have slipped that into their first year’s pricing. Some nerve, huh? So now, on a Gridlock Alert Day, a Jersey driver could pay up to $30.94. Again, that’s on top of the current toll, parking, and gas. 

So, now that we know what the MTA is planning to charge for the Congestion Tax, it begs the question, just how much revenue will New York and the MTA generate for themselves from the Congestion. We know they aren’t planning to give a nickel to Jersey. 

We also know that back in 2019, the New York State Legislature ordered the city to implement a Congestion Tax that raises $1 billion dollars every year. So, that’s their stated goal and everyone from the MTA to the Governor of New York often repeats that billion-dollar requirement. 

Why do they need to raise so much money? Well, and this is generally accepted by everyone at this point, the MTA is the worst run mass transit system in the country. They have a multi-billion-dollar budget. In 2022, for example, they lost $700 million dollars to fare skippers alone.   

Last month, it was revealed that MTA’s new Second Avenue subway stations will cost $1 billion dollars more than necessary because of mismanagement and poor design. It’s a bottomless pit, and the MTA felt they needed someone to help fund their legendary mismanagement and overruns. The billions New York gets from all of the tolls wasn’t enough. That’s where whacking Jersey with a new Congestion Tax came in – and they attempted to use the environment or traffic reduction as a cover for their plan. Unfortunately for the MTA, their own reports to the federal government showed that the Congestion Tax will actually lead to more traffic and pollution.  

But here is the eye-opening part of my report – and the potential good news I mentioned for Jersey. My team and I spent hours upon hours crunching numbers utilizing public data, and using the bottom end of the MTA’s potential pricing – so without surge pricing, toll increases, and presuming everyone will use an EZ-Pass. Here is what we uncovered. 

When you run the numbers, New York’s proposed Congestion Tax scheme will likely raise $3.4 billion dollars — three times the $1 billion dollar objective I mentioned earlier, as required by New York State Law. 

To be clear, these findings are based on the MTA’s own assumption, as we detail in the Congressional Report, and presumes, as they do, that, once implemented, there will be a 17 percent decrease in traffic entering the Congestion Zone. 

You heard me right. The MTA’s Congestion Tax will rake in $3.4 billion dollars a year — more than three times more than the $1 billion dollars they need according to New York state law. This just proves that New York’s Congestion Tax is nothing but a cash grab and we discovered the extent of New York’s greed. 

However, given these numbers, given that the MTA’s pricing will raise three times what they need, here’s the good news for Jersey – and one of the major conclusions in my Congressional Report: Based on these numbers, New York can fully exempt all cars and trucks from the Congestion Tax entering the South of 60th Street via the George Washington Bridge, and Holland and Lincoln Tunnels — and still raise $1.4 billion dollars a year. That’s $400 million dollars above their legally-mandated target. 

Yes, the numbers show that the MTA can fully exclude New Jersey drivers from the Congestion Tax. 

In other words, there is no reason New Jersey drivers can’t be exempt from the Congestion Tax. Instead of making Jersey pay for the MTA’s woeful mismanagement, New Yorkers can pay for New York’s MTA problem. It will also let us get back to cooperating and working together through the Port Authority, as we have for more than a century. 

Don’t fret New York: you will still get $1.8 billion a year from the Jersey-to-New York tolls drivers already pay every year via the Port Authority to enter New York City.  

All of this math is clearly laid out on page 3 of our Congressional Report, which will be on my website right after this event. 

A couple of other key findings: 

First, on traffic patterns, presuming they go ahead as planned. As the MTA has concocted in their December pricing proposal, not only will the Congestion Tax push more trucks to the George Washington Bridge, but the price differential in the Jersey crossings will also force more cars to back up at the two tunnels. 

Drivers using an EZ-Pass in the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels will receive a $5 dollar discount on the Congestion Tax; those using the George Washington Bridge receive none. Small and Large trucks entering the Congestion Tax zone using the GW will pay a minimum of $6,000 dollars and $9,000 dollars. The Lincoln and Holland would be $3,000 dollars and $4,000 dollars. This pricing structure will send more truck traffic to the bridge to avoid the Congestion Tax zone, resulting in more truck polluting, cancer-causing emissions into Northern New Jersey, and it will force more car commuters to the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels seeking lower daily costs.

Those trucks now backed up deeper into Northern Jersey and the outer boroughs will billow more cancer-causing pollution into the lungs of our children — including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and even formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Don’t take my word for it: ask the MTA. 

As I said, all of this is in black and white in the report the MTA submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation – that’s the same agency that decided to ignore the MTA’s alarming findings and rubber stamp their application for a Congestion Tax without an in-depth environmental review. 

To mitigate the effects of the cancer-causing pollution in New York from the Congestion Tax, the MTA has already committed $130 million dollars to the Bronx for air filtration units near schools and an asthma treatment program. 

Not a penny to Jersey. Given what they plan to make, I now understand how they can afford that. 

Last point, as detailed in our report, the Congestion Tax will likely result in a $830 million dollar loss to the Port Authority capital infrastructure projects over the next decade. This will directly damage the Port’s capital plan and what they can invest in mass transit in the region. Yes, the Congestion Tax actually undermines regional investment into mass transit.  

That includes renovating the Port Authority Bus Terminal, replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix, and repairing the George Washington Bridge suspension cables. The capital plan also 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. 

The capital plan also 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 will help our ports be able to move goods quicker. 

But, if they go ahead with their December pricing plan, the MTA’s Congestion Tax will put all of these projects at risk. New York needs to wake up and realize that they are on the verge of gutting nearly a billion dollars out of the Port Authority budget and blowing a hundred years of cooperation with the Port Authority.

Before I close, I want everyone to remember who will be punished by the Congestion Tax.  

Think about the child with asthma in North Jersey who will now have more trouble breathing. 

Think about our cops, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, sanitation employees, and hardworking men and women of labor receiving no exemptions on their commutes. 

Think about the patients getting treatments at Mount Sinai, NYU Langone, or New York Presbyterian who will now have to pay to drive to their doctors’ appointments. 

Think about the more than $28,000 dollars per year a truck driver making deliveries will face because of the Congestion Tax or the working-class taxi and ride-share drivers who will also be hit.

Think about all the families who will be priced out of visiting New York City and all it has to offer. It will kill tourism and New York’s small businesses. 

The numbers in our report and the people who will suffer should be more than enough reason for New York to put a stop to their Congestion Tax.

Governor Hochul, Janno, you have a few months left to change your mind and work with Jersey. 

And today, we gave you a roadmap with how to afford it, relieve Jersey drivers fully from the Congestion Tax, and live by the New York State Legislature law you always cite as your motivating factor. 

I’m looking forward to sitting down with MTA Chairman Lieber to discuss our findings. I’ve already requested a meeting. 

That’s how we do it in the greatest country in the world, where I know our best days will always be ahead of us. 

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

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