The very few New Jersey commuters who will pay the congestion toll are much wealthier

The elite come together to bleat.

New Jersey commuters to Manhattan’s so-called central business district include a small group of wealthy people, census data gathered by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and released on Monday – a scathing rebuke to politicians of New Jersey who are crying that congestion pricing is an unfair tax on the hard-working middle class.

The Transit Support Group looked at commuting patterns in 21 Garden State Legislative Districts closest to Manhattan and found that, on average, only 1.6% of commuters from those areas travel to Manhattan. CBD for work – and the median income for these commuters was $ 107,996 per year, about 22% more than the median of $ 88,407 for commuters who use public transit.

In short, New Jersey drivers who use the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels or the George Washington Bridge to get to Manhattan below 60th Street are few but big in the wallet.

Here is the backgrounder for the Northern District of New Jersey represented by Senator Holly Schepisi (R) and Assembly Members Robert Auth (R) and Deanne Deuccio (R).  Graphic: Transportation campaign in the three states
Here is the backgrounder for the Northern District of New Jersey represented by Senator Holly Schepisi (R) and Assembly Members Robert Auth (R) and Deanne Deuccio (R). Graphic: Transportation campaign in the three states

Each of the 21 districts receives its own tri-state fact sheet based on census data to show how many commuters in the district would pay congestion charge, the median incomes of each type of commuter, and the breakdown of how commuters in the district would pay congestion charges. Commuters from each county get to the central business district. (See an example at right; click to expand.) Like the fact sheets the organization has published for New York City’s legislative districts, the latest fact sheets make it very clear that residents who drive into the neighborhood central business are much better less than people who use public transport.

In Districts 17 and 25, two of the westernmost districts studied by Tri-State, only 1% of commuters from each district go to the central business district as a destination. Conversely, 68.9% of commuters in District 17 in the CBD get there by public transport, and 77% in District 25 use public transport. The median income of workers in each district is over $ 100,000 per year for people who drive alone to get to work, while the median income for those who use public transport is almost $ 80,000 per year. , or about 20% less.

Closer to Manhattan, the numbers aren’t much different. In Districts 37 and 38, which are near the George Washington Bridge, only 1.7% and 1% of commuters in each respective district would pay a congestion charge, while 74.5% of commuters in District 37 to the CBD and 83 , 1% of CBD commuters in District 38 would be benefit to toll because it is expected to raise $ 15 billion in bond revenue to finance improvements to the MTA service.

Despite these numbers, Senator Loretta Weinberg, who represents District 37 in addition to being president of the New Jersey State Senate, once told Politico that congestion pricing “will make it impossible” to travel and suggested that the $ 9 to $ 23 toll currently under consideration would make it “cheaper to fly to California.” (Info point: New Jersey residents with EZ Pass already pay $ 13.75 in rush hour tolls (and $ 11.75 off peak) at the Holland and Lincoln tunnels.)

Districts 37 and 38 are also in the Congressional District represented by the notorious enemy of congestion charging and Biden agenda saboteur Representative Josh Gottheimer. The congressman, who introduced federal legislation banning congestion charging, has already suggested – despite the numbers above – that it is “impossible” to provide transit options to his class voters worker (in a district with a median income of $ 110,000 per year). Other Northwestern New Jersey legislative districts that are in the Federal District of Gottheimer reflect the same heavy transit travel patterns and are populated with much higher income drivers than transit users:

  • In District 26, which contains part of Bergen County, 1.1% of commuters would pay a congestion charge and 85.8% of CBD commuters get there by public transport.
  • In District 34, which includes part of Passaic County, 3.2% of commuters would pay a congestion charge and 67.3% of CBD commuters get there by public transport.
  • In District 35, which contains parts of Bergen and Passaic County, 1.4% of commuters would pay a congestion charge and 76% of CBD commuters get there by public transport.
  • In District 39, which contains parts of Bergen and Passaic County, 1.2% of commuters would pay a congestion charge and 77.3% of CBD commuters get there by public transport.
  • In District 40, which contains chunks of Bergen and Passaic County, 1.1% of commuters would pay a congestion charge and 86.4% of CBD commuters get there by public transport.

The 21 districts examined by Tri-State do not fully match the larger region that the MTA analyzes for its congestion pricing EA – but the larger area studied by the MTA has even fewer CBD-related drivers who would be subject to the toll as the tri-state area.

Jersey jester Josh Gottheimer.
Jersey jester Josh Gottheimer.

The data released on Monday “covers all of the legislative districts we believe are relevant – because the further you move away from the CBD, the percentage of drivers drops further,” Tri-State spokesman Liam Blank said.

Tri-state fact sheets also claim the Regional Planning Association’s argument that for all the fuss that New Jersey politicians are trying to give New York City, a small number of drivers are coming from New Jersey directly. in central and lower Manhattan. New Jersey drivers already pay a toll to enter Manhattan, but RPA CEO Tom Wright recently argued for an exemption for Jersey drivers, not only for the sake of fairness, but also because that so few Garden Staters – around 20,000 – travel to the CBD by car. It’s a small number of the roughly 700,000 drivers who are ruining city life for the rest of us by choosing to drive in the CBD.

A spokesman for Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated that Murphy would destroy the port authority if New Jersey residents are not exempt from the congestion toll.

“The governor has been clear and consistent, he is adamantly opposed to the double toll of New Jersey commuters who will have to pay to enter Manhattan through the George Washington Bridge, then pay again to enter the Midtown congestion zone, without receiving credit. for their toll, ”Murphy’s spokesman Michael Zhadanovsky said. His position remains that GWB commuters should be treated the same as Holland Tunnel and Lincoln Tunnel commuters who will be credited with their tolls. “

Gottheimer’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

New Jersey elected officials who oppose congestion pricing may want to hear from one of their constituents, a northern New Jersey resident who spoke out in favor of the toll to close Monday’s town hall. evening on the environmental assessment of congestion pricing.

“I live in northern New Jersey,” said Morris County resident Michael Ryan. “I go to Manhattan regularly, most of the time I use the trains. But sometimes I have to drive for various reasons, we have to take care of someone who needs medical help and their attending physician is in Manhattan. I think the opportunity, and I say the opportunity because I think so, that everyone collectively takes on this responsibility of making the streets safer, of reducing traffic in one of the most congested dangerous areas in the world. planet, or certainly in this country is just a benefit for everyone. I fully support the congestion pricing plan as a fair and equal charge for all drivers. “

Tri-State data and ongoing testimony from members of the public are part of the 16-month congestion pricing EA that the MTA undertakes before it can seek federal approval for congestion pricing, which was adopted by the State of New York. legislature in 2019.

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