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Malliotakis calls for further delay to congestion pricing, calls it ‘the latest cash-grab of the MTA’

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Reps Nicole Malliotakis and Josh Gottheimer call for further delay to the congestion pricing program near the Holland Tunnel.
Photo by Ben Brachfeld

Congress Member Nicole Malliotakis, the city’s sole congressional Republican, wants the MTA to slow down even further the timetable to implement congestion pricing, and is pressing the Biden administration to force the transit authority to undertake a far more onerous environmental review in order to halt the plan by another several years.

Malliotakis made the announcement with bipartisan flair, bringing with her a congestion pricing foe from the Democratic side of the aisle, Congress Member Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. Both argued that the plan would be far too burdensome on their constituents who, for various reasons, have no other choice but to drive their private automobiles into Manhattan.

“We’re here today in bipartisan opposition to this congestion pricing scheme, which is nothing more than the latest cash-grab of the MTA,” Malliotakis said at a Monday press conference near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. “It’s nothing more than the latest war on cars by the city and the state.”

Malliotakis and Gottheimer sent a letter to the Federal Highway Administration demanding that congestion pricing ⁠— which would establish tolling in Manhattan’s central business district below 60th Street to raise money for the MTA to improve bus and subway infrastructure ⁠— go through a far more arduous “environmental impact study” instead of a comparatively ephemeral environmental assessment. The letter, co-signed by Long Island rep and gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin plus New Jersey Republican Andrew Garbarino, says that will allow for greater public input in the process.

Gottheimer held up a piggy bank to symbolize how he feels the MTA is treating aggrieved New Jersey drivers.Photo by Ben Brachfeld

The pair say that congestion pricing will deal a particularly horrendous financial blow on car commuters from their districts who already pay high tolls to drive into the city on crossings like the Verrazzano Narrows and George Washington bridges.

“Just read MTA spelled backwards and it tells you exactly how the MTA looks at New Jersey right now,” Gottheimer said. “As their personal ATM.”

Congestion pricing was approved for New York City in 2019 after years of debate, with a two-pronged goal: reducing traffic congestion by disincentivizing driving into Manhattan, and using the estimated $15 billion in revenue to fix the aging and crumbling subway system.

Last week, the MTA released possible toll values to enter Manhattan below 60th Street, with rates potentially reaching as high as $23 per crossing.

At a press conference at the New Hyde Park Long Island Rail Road station Monday, Governor Kathy Hochul and MTA Chair Janno Lieber said the state has no plans to delay congestion pricing any further, and the program is expected to go into effect either late next year or early the following year.

“This is a plan that’s been there for decades: 15 to 20 years perhaps,” the governor said. “The thought is that we can do everything we can to encourage people to take public transportation and get the vehicles off the roads. This is a perfect example of that; how we made those investments. We can offer a better, environmentally friendly alternative that actually puts people’s time back in their lives. So that is what we are focused on.”

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