Congestion pricing will fuel further flight from New York


As a native New Yorker, born and raised on Long Island, I am extraordinarily proud of this place we call home. From our beaches, to our downtown, corridors to our tight-knit hometowns, the Empire State is filled with wonderful communities in which to live, work and raise a family.
Sadly, in recent times, far too many New Yorkers have been forced to flee the place they’ve spent most of their lives, driven out by high taxes, an ever-increasing cost of living exacerbated by inflation, and deteriorating public safety. Instead of working to curb this mass migration of New Yorkers to greener pastures — fueled in large part by a lack of affordability — Gov. Kathy Hochul is attempting to levy an additional tax on already overtaxed New Yorkers in the form of congestion pricing. These new fees would be flat-out wrong, and I’m working hard in Congress to stop them.
Under the governor’s ill-fated congestion pricing plan — formally termed the Central Business District Tolling Program — commuters would pay upward of $23 during peak hours to drive south of 60th Street in Manhattan. What’s more, this would be in addition to the already high tolls commuters must pay for the bridges and tunnels leading into Manhattan. While more and more New Yorkers feel the financial squeeze of inflation and an uncertain economy, Hochul has determined that this is the best time to move forward with her misguided congestion fees — which, if paid daily by an average commuter who drives into Manhattan for work on typical weekdays, could amount to more than $5,000 a year. What middle class family can afford that?
While congestion pricing has not yet been implemented, Hochul and her progressive allies in Albany are already championing this new pseudo-tax as a win for everyday New Yorkers as well as the faltering Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Indeed, funds from the congestion-pricing program are slated to fill the coffers of the struggling MTA and bankroll the agency’s bloated budget by encouraging more commuters to ride the rails into Lower Manhattan instead of driving. While increasing ridership on public transportation is a noble cause, doing so by threatening New Yorkers with financial hardship for driving is not the path forward.
Not only are commuters now staring down the barrel of thousands of dollars in new fees if they drive into Manhattan, but they are also facing increased costs for public transportation after the latest round of MTA fare hikes. Indeed, with MTA bus and subway fares now jumping to $2.90 a ride — and the roughly 4.3 percent Long Island Rail Road fare uptick — commuters are being forced to bear the brunt of the MTA’s long history of mismanagement — a seemingly never-ending saga that culminated with reports released earlier this year projecting a nearly $2.5 billion budget gap by 2025 for the agency.

In addition to increased costs, far too many New Yorkers have been exposed to a recent rash of violent crime while utilizing MTA services. Forcing those crime-weary commuters to pay more money for less safe commuting conditions is patently unfair.
All of this is to say that if Hochul were serious about helping local commuters, she wouldn’t push an unpopular and unneeded congestion-pricing plan on cash-strapped New Yorkers who are also having to contend with inflation, deteriorating safety on public transportation, and rising fares. What’s more, unless the MTA makes serious operational changes in the way it manages its finances, how soon will we have to contend with increased congestion pricing fees in order to plug even greater holes in the agency’s budget?
I am opposed to the governor’s congestion pricing plan as it currently stands, and have worked in a bipartisan fashion to fight this new tax. In Congress, I have introduced H.R. 609, which calls for an outright rejection of the plan, and I’m proud to say that colleagues in both parties from across the tri-state area have co-sponsored this federal push to quash this money grab by the state government.
While my fellow members of Congress and I work at the federal level to combat this new tax, I urge all of my Nassau County neighbors to contact Gov. Hochul’s office — and their local state legislators — to voice their opposition to the congestion pricing scheme, and tell Hochul that we can’t afford another tax hike from Albany.
The governor and her progressive pals in the State Legislature need to get serious about reeling in these out-of-control taxes and fees, before we lose even more New Yorkers to other corners of the country that respect their pocketbooks — and their commutes — more than the Empire State does under this administration in Albany.

U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito represents New York’s 4th Congressional District.