Penner Flip Flops On Congestion Pricing (again)

Penner Flip Flops On Congestion Pricing (again)
Photos Provided by Rivkin Radler


On 9/5/2022, a reader’s letter was posted on congestion pricing. The reader asked if the MTA treats commuters like an ATM Machine (a redundancy, since you’re saying automatic teller machine machine, but let’s skip grammar). This reader asked “why is there no…emphasis on the part of MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and supporters of congestion pricing when it comes to dealing with fare evasion, excessive overtime, pension abuse, burdensome state and federal Buy America rules and regulations, transferring of TBTA bridge and tunnel tolls to transit along with upcoming union contracts? They all collectively adversely impact the MTA capital program.”

The reader further said “many who will be asked to pay for congestion pricing already pay for tolls on MTA TriBoro Bridge and Tunnel Authority bridges and tunnels. Every year, $500 million in TBTA-generated tolls are transferred to MTA Transit operating agencies including New York City Transit subway, bus and Staten Island Railway, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road and MTA Bus

Why doesn’t the MTA resolve all of these issues before pursuing congestion pricing? Collectively they could easily raise close to the $1 billion per year promised by the implementation of congestion pricing.

You don’t need to take my word for it; the opinion piece is readily available with a couple of mouse clicks. It’s right on this very website. The author of this opinion piece? Larry Penner.

This very same author apparently has changed his mind about congestion pricing: “Why Not Give Jersey a fair share of congestion toll pricing revenues?” There is a very simple solution to Gov Phil Murphy’s lawsuit: Share revenues with New Jersey.”

But there’s one fly in the ointment: the subject of Gov. Murphy’s lawsuit is not about New Jersey receiving congestion pricing toll revenues. It is about the alleged unfair taxation of New Jerseyites.

If Mr. Penner would engage in nuts-and-bolts research rather than simply talking off the top of his head, he would come up with this: In this article, Gov. Murphy and other Jersey politicians state their issues with congestion pricing. Right or wrong it has nothing to do with New Jersey getting its fair share of revenue.

So which is it? Is Mr. Penner in favor of it? Against it? In favor of it? Why does the author have no problem with New Jerseyites paying congestion tolls on top of bridge tolls but apparently has an issue with Long Island residents paying it? Why is it that a man with decidedly Libertarian leaning opinions is (sometimes) in favor of de facto taxation?

Nat Weiner


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