Governor Murphy Blasts Approval Of Congestion Pricing

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Governor Phil Murphy has expressed strong disapproval of the newly approved congestion pricing plan in Manhattan. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board has given the final nod to a $15 toll for drivers venturing below 60th Street in Manhattan, with a few exceptions.

Murphy, a long-time critic of the controversial plan, has pledged to continue fighting against what he labels a "blatant cash grab." He argues that the MTA's actions are further evidence of their determination to balance their budget at the expense of New Jersey commuters.

The congestion pricing plan, the first of its kind in the U.S., is expected to generate billions of dollars for necessary transit and railroad upgrades while reducing traffic. However, it has faced fierce opposition from various quarters, including residents, politicians, and labor unions. They argue that the toll will hurt commuters and hinder Manhattan's post-pandemic recovery.

The only dissenting vote on the MTA board came from David Mack, who represents suburban Nassau County. Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, a top aide to Mayor Eric Adams, indicated that City Hall would continue to push for an exemption for taxis.

The toll, which could be implemented as early as mid-June, is expected to raise $1 billion per year. This revenue would fund major upgrades to the MTA's subway, commuter railroad, and bus systems.

Despite the approval, the toll is facing numerous legal challenges, including from Governor Murphy, the teachers' union, and 18 New York lawmakers. The labor coalition representing New York City's nearly 400,000 government workers has also backed Murphy's federal lawsuit.

Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams have refused to support the state's controversial congestion pricing proposal. They believe the city should have had more "power and control" over the situation, which likely would have resulted in a "different version."

The congestion pricing plan would charge drivers $15 per day if they exit the West Side Highway or the FDR Drive in Manhattan and enter its local streets south of 60th Street between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends.

The tolling scheme has been debated for decades as a solution to the crippling traffic jams and pollution problems in Manhattan, one of the densest and most congested places in the world. The MTA's buses crawl through traffic at just 8 miles per hour.

Legal hearings for the ongoing lawsuits are scheduled to take place in the Garden State case on April 3, followed by a hearing in Manhattan Federal Court on May 17.

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