NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a vocal critic of the MTA’s congestion pricing plan, has asked President Joe Biden to intervene on behalf of the Garden State.
Murphy said Wednesday he talked to the president last week about Biden mandating an environmental impact study, the same request he had already made to the Federal Highway Administration last month.
The governor said he talked to the Deparrment of Transportation and the White House about the study to get all the parties together to see if if conegstion pricing works for New Jersey.
“This is the one step we would like to see taken,” Murphy said of the impact study. “It gets all parties at the table. It does it in a comprehensive, smart, responsible way.”
Prior to his conversation with Biden, Murphy sent a letter to the FHA to consider the environmental impact statement. In the Sept. 23 letter, Murphy said the MTA tolling program did not sufficiently consider how New Jersey will be impacted and doesn’t address how mass transit, like NJ Transit and the PATH, will handle the increased capacity.
“While we share a goal of cleaner air and greater public transit investment, the burden must be paid by those who are able and willing, not by those who can least afford it, who have alternatives, and who did not have a voice in the matter,” Murphy wrote. “We must get congestion pricing right.”
In August, the MTA’s environmental impact study said the Central Business District Tolling Program would charge drivers a specific amount depending on the time of day to reduce traffic in the areas below 60th Street in Manhattan, officials said. Depending on the scenario, drivers could be charged from $9 to $23 for travel during peak hours and from $7 to $17 for off-peak hours, according to the report
New Jersey drivers already pay tolls to cross the Hudson River.
“We will not relent,” Murphy said Wednesday. “We can not double tax New Jersey commuters.”
The MTA is looking for about $1 billion in revenue annually to improve subway, bus, and commuter rail systems, according to the study. Congestion pricing is expected to start in late 2023 or early 2024, an MTA official said.