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MTA Chief Janno Lieber says they're looking at ways to prevent double-taxing with congestion pricing

MTA looking to avoid double-taxing NJ drivers with congestion pricing
MTA looking to avoid double-taxing NJ drivers with congestion pricing 02:23

NEW YORK -- There's good news for all those congestion pricing opponents who live in the suburbs.

MTA CEO Janno Lieber tells CBS2 the agency is looking at a way to prevent double-taxing drivers who take tunnels into the city. CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer says the idea could put the brakes on threatened lawsuits.

When it comes to congestion pricing, the MTA is apparently taking the American revolutionary slogan "no taxation without representation" to heart.

Lieber told Kramer on CBS2's political talk show "The Point" that not charging a congestion pricing fee for New Jersey drivers who already pay a toll to take the Holland and Lincoln tunnels is now on the table.

"It is actually an idea that we have specifically studied," he said. "Yeah, we're looking at that."

"What about the people who take the Midtown Tunnel and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel? Would you think about fairness for them, too, so they wouldn't be double-taxed?" Kramer asked.

"Marcia, absolutely. We're not going to advantage New Jersey over New Yorkers. Whatever we do, obviously, is going to take into consideration people who are paying tolls who are coming from Long Island and Queens and Brooklyn and the boroughs," Lieber said.

Watch Marcia Kramer's report

MTA looking at ways to prevent double-taxing with congestion pricing 02:16

The four tunnels -- the Holland and Lincoln from New Jersey, and the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn Battery tunnels -- enter the congestion zone where drivers are asked to pay a fee to enter the Central Business District below 60th Street.

The idea to eliminate double taxation for people who already pay a bridge toll could also head off a threatened lawsuit by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and other politicians, though Lieber was decidedly unsympathetic to them.

"With all due respect, they don't ask our permission to increase tolls on the Garden State Parkway or the Jersey Turnpike, they just increase tolls," he said. "We are very much entitled to deal with our Central Business District's existential congestion problem. We're being responsible about it, and we're taking fairness to New Jersey into consideration."

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Officials say drivers from the Garden State will get hit hard with an additional $23 a day. That can mount to a whopping $5,000 a year.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer is appalled.

"Just to commute into New York on top of the $17 it costs to go through the tunnels or over the G.W. Bridge, it's totally unacceptable," he said.

Gottheimer says the MTA's cash-strapped state should not be the Garden State's problem, and they should be considered into the rates as New Jersey drivers also pay so much to travel into the city.

"The MTA doesn't look to Jersey to pick up the tab for their problems, I'm OK. As long as they don't charge New Jersey commuters a nickel more than they already have to pay to go over the bridge or through the tunnels, then I'm OK," he said.

Officials are hoping congestion pricing will go into effect next spring. A mobility panel will have to set rates and decide if anyone is entitled to an exemption.

You can watch Kramer's entire interview with Lieber on "The Point" this Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on CBS2.

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