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Pascrell Defends NJ Commuters Against NY’s Flawed Congestion Pricing Scheme

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) spoke in defense of New Jersey commuters this evening at a public hearing on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP). Rep. Pascrell has been an outspoken opponent of New York’s proposed congestion pricing scheme, which would saddle many New Jersey travelers with excessive fees and taxes. 

Rep. Pascrell Public Remarks (as prepared for delivery)

I am here because, once again, North Jerseyans are getting stuck with the short end of the stick.

We in New Jersey are quite used to paying our fair share. But this proposed pricing scheme is a bridge too far. New Jersey has barely had a say in the matter.

Despite efforts to coordinate, New York is marching forward all alone. They’re trying to jam a tax hike onto the backs of New Jersey commuters.

It is wrong. It is unacceptable. It cannot stand.

Many don’t realize that Manhattan’s roads are federal aid roadways.

In the zone, there are 443 lane miles of federal aid roadways that have been renovated and upgraded thanks to countless federal investments funded by American drivers. 223 of those lane miles are part of the National Highway System.

It is unfair for New York to limit access to roads that we all paid for without consulting its neighbors and then charge an extra fee on top. This is an extra tax on New Jersey drivers. I’d call it chutzpah.

I fear this so-called Environmental Assessment is a rushed rubber stamp. We need a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement with public meetings that do not require speakers to sign up days in advance.

We sent a letter to Secretary Buttigieg back in April. We outlined our many concerns and demanded only fairness.

We have still not heard any reply. It’s an outrage!

President Biden promised not to raise taxes on middle class families. I hope federal officials remember his commitment as they review this scheme.

We need a real environmental review on the impact for all stakeholders, especially New Jersey commuters.

We have no sense of how traffic at the Hudson River crossings will be impacted. Some will see more traffic, some less. That burden will be on our state.

Will our already overburdened mass transit system be able to handle new riders?

And while air quality may improve in Times Square, what about the air in Fort Lee, Weehawken and Jersey City? Do we count?

This plan has not addressed drivers needing to get into the city for medical issues – and there are many.

What about the mother with cancer who isn’t up to finding a bus or waiting for a train? Will she be able to drive in and out of the city for chemotherapy treatments without breaking the bank? Who is considering her?

We want to address air quality. We want more folks riding public transportation. But our request is simple: Fairness. That’s it.

Manhattan may be an island, but on affairs of interstate commerce it is not an island unto itself.

I will continue to fight for New Jersey. I will fight for fairness from this proposed tax scheme.

Thank you and God bless.

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