D’Esposito sponsors bipartisan bill opposing NYC’s congestion pricing

D’Esposito sponsors bipartisan bill opposing NYC’s congestion pricing
The LIRR's Jamaica Station. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) introduced bipartisan legislation last week opposing New York City’s congestion pricing, which includes plans to toll drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street. 

The bill was co-sponsored by New Jersey Democrats U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer of the state’s 5th Congressional District and Thomas Kean Jr. of the state’s 7th Congressional District. 

Congestion pricing, officially known as the Central Business District Tolling Program, will lower traffic and similar programs have been shown to improve air quality, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. 

The plan calls for a toll to be paid to enter a zone that extends from 60th Street to the Battery.

Officials said the program could be instituted by spring 2024. 

“The new congestion pricing plan is an assault on the hardworking Americans commuting into New York City every day,” D’Esposito said in a statement. “Commuters should not be forced to bail out the MTA for countless years of mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility. Congestion pricing is a slap in the face to my constituents, who already must navigate record high inflation, increasing property taxes, and MTA fare hikes.”

He pointed out that the plan will have far-reaching effects on commuters in the tri-state area.

“It’s time for leaders in Albany to go back to the drawing board and stop taxing their way out of problems of their own creation,” Esposito said.

The resolution, introduced on July 24 and referred to committee, calls for New York to study the economic impact on small businesses. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy filed a lawsuit last month against the U.S. Department of Transportation, which greenlit New York City’s plan.

New Jersey contends the approval from the federal agency violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, which requires the department to conduct comprehensive reviews before approving the project. 

If implemented, peak-hour travel could cost between $9 and $23 in any of the seven toll price scenarios. Off-peak travel could cost between $7 and $17 and overnight travel might cost between $5 and $12.

The Manhattan Central Business District is one of the biggest in the world. But in 2020 and 2021, the city ranked as the most congested in America, according to a report from INRIX, a private analytics company, 

The executive summary of the congestion pricing plan says the region around New York City suffers from driver congestion costs of 102 hours of wasted time per year and around $1,595 per driver annually. It also notes that between 2010 and 2019, travel speeds in the Manhattan Central Business District fell by 22%, from 9.1 mph to 7.1 mph.

The program’s environmental assessment from last August states that over 1,262,400 of the roughly 1.5 million people who work in the Central Business District commute from outside the city, according to Census Transportation Planning Package data from 2012 to 2016. Long Island accounts for 8% of these commuters — a little over 100,000 individuals.

The congesting pricing proposal seeks to lessen traffic while generating funds for upcoming transportation improvements. Officials say these changes will have a positive impact on the environment, the economy and emergency response times.

According to the report, truck traffic may be decreased by up to 81% and car traffic by up to 20%.

“At a time when we should be doing everything we can to make life more affordable for hardworking families, New York’s and the MTA’s congestion tax will whack middle-class Jersey and New York drivers with a $23-a-day tax to go south of 60th in Manhattan,” Gottheimer said. The MTA admitted in their own report that the congestion tax will increase traffic and cancer-causing air pollution in Jersey and the outer boroughs.”

The congressman said there is strong bipartisan support in Congress for stopping the bailout of the mismanaged MTA.

The program would be the first of its kind in the country. Major foreign cities that have seen at least a 24% reduction in traffic include Stockholm, London and Singapore, the MTA said. 

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