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‘You gotta make sacrifices.’ NJ commuters resigned to the fact that congestion pricing is inevitable

Many New Jersey residents who commute into Manhattan say they aren’t happy about congestion pricing, but have no choice.

Chris Keating

Dec 7, 2023, 5:32 PM

Updated 221 days ago


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s congestion pricing plan will likely become a reality in the spring – a reality that New Jersey commuters who drive to New York City will have to embrace.
The MTA announced this week that if the plan goes into effect, drivers will have to pay a $15 fee for the privilege of driving into lower Manhattan. This means that anyone traveling below 60th Street will be charged. Those drivers will be flagged by car readers that are currently being erected at 120 locations around the city.
The MTA says the congestion pricing plan is designed to reduce traffic in the city and to raise $15 billion to pay for upgrades to the New York City subway system. Upgrades include new subway cars and signals and electric buses.
But New Jersey leaders have long said congestion pricing is an unfair tax on Garden State residents. There’s also a concern that more drivers will use the George Washington Bridge to avoid the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, creating more traffic and pollution for the people of Fort Lee.
New Jersey commuters will inevitably need to make a decision to keep driving into the city or use mass transit.
News 12 New Jersey spoke with Wakeye McKanney while gassing up her car outside of the Holland Tunnel. She’s from Irvington and works in construction in the city. She says she often works very late hours, which is not ideal for mass transit. When possible, she’ll take the train, otherwise, she’ll be driving on most days and paying the added fee.
“It depends on what shift I have. If it’s a late shift, the trains and the buses are horrible at night and I get home too late,” she says.
McKanney says she will have to eat the added fee and find a way to make it up.
“Don’t want to, but you gotta make sacrifices,” she says. “It's just, you know, cuts down on whatever extra food you want to put in your week. You just can’t get it.”
That extra $15 would be added onto her tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and at the Holland Tunnel. She'll be paying $33 per day just to get to work.
The borough of Fort Lee has filed a lawsuit to stop the congestion pricing plan. No decision has been made concerning that suit.

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