U.S. Reps. Rob Menendez (D-8) and Mikie Sherrill (D-11) expressed doubts over a statewide transportation plan revealed by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, the only declared candidate for governor, yesterday.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“With all due respect to the mayor, I think he mischaracterized the Port Authority’s care for the PATH: if you look at the last several years, they’ve invested a significant amount in expanding platforms, expanding capacity, longer cars, so they very much care about the PATH, they know it’s an integral part of our transit system,” Menendez remarked following a press event at Bayonne Dry Dock with U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro.
“With that being said, it’s an asset of the Port Authority that’s subsidized … with its other assets. So the idea of transferring that to NJ Transit, which already has it’s operational capital limits, to me, some if that would have to be really fleshed out before it even be taken into consideration because of the nature of the PATH, the affordability of the PATH, so it’s something that I think needs some time and deep consideration.”
On Monday, Fulop unveiled his 10-point transportation plan, which included bringing the PATH under control of NJ Transit, as HCV first reported.
Another key component of the proposal is New Jersey congestion pricing to combat the new tax for Garden State drivers across the river.
“The same way that the MTA is using the congestion pricing model in New York to offset some of their expenses, New Jersey should be doing the same instead of just going and complaining to the courts, we should be doing the same and looking to solve the issues here,” Fulop said on Monday.
” … There’s a lot of entry points where New York drivers come into New Jersey as well and if we’re in the congestion pricing conversation, there should be a regional conversation around it … I think it would go a long way towards a dedicated revenue for the train systems here in North Jersey, it’s environmentally conscious, and again, you’re encouraging mass transit usage.”
He also said the new tax on New York driver’s could be effectuated via license plate readers that law enforcement agencies already have access to.
On congestion pricing, Menendez, who along with U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) panned the Empire State’s plan in May, was steadfast that there needs to be more done for New Jerseyans and is working on getting NYC Subway’s Line 7 extended into Secaucus.
Echoing what Gottheimer told News 12 yesterday, Sherrill (both of whom are potential 2025 gubernatorial candidates) stated that she thought Fulop’s congestion pricing concept would be a double tax on New Jersey commuters.
“If you look at congestion pricing and the way New York has laid that out, that is just a money grab from New Jerseyans. It doesn’t fund, for example, NJ Transit, it simply goes to fund New York priorities on the backs of New Jersey taxpayers, so I’m very against it,” the congresswoman declared.
“I think Mayor Fulop’s plan is just a double tax then: you get taxed going in, you get taxed coming out, that doesn’t make any sense, either. I really do think we have to fight against this congestion plan, I’ve been supporting the governor’s lawsuit against it and hopefully we’ll see some movement in that area.”
Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that New Jersey had filed a federal lawsuit to halt the New York congestion pricing plan.
At his presser on Monday, Fulop said he thought the state should not be trying to remedy this matter through the courts and that the litigation was likely not winnable.
Replying to Sherrill and Gottheimer, he declined to respond point by point, but reiterated that drivers would not face a double tax if his congestion pricing plan was implemented, as well as that further public input on the wider proposal would be considered.
“I’m not going to get into a public back and forth and say anything negative about fellow Democrats, but it’s important to note that in the announcement of the plan we discussed how to carve out New Jersey drivers from congestion pricing and make sure that they would never be double taxed,” he said.
“Also, worth noting, since they are clearly misinformed, I do want to point out that our campaign is hosting a major public Zoom call on the Transportation plan next week where we expect a huge turnout, and if they want to learn more about transportation in New Jersey they are welcome to sign up and listen. We posted the link today and would gladly welcome them.”