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'This Is Simply An Attempt To Mooch Off Of New Jersey': Garden State Drivers Weigh In On Congestion Pricing Costs

EDGEWATER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The MTA is holding more meetings about congestion pricing, this time, getting input from New Jersey drivers.

As CBS2's Nick Caloway reports, many in the Garden State could pay up to $31 to commute, and that does not sit well.

The drive under or over the Hudson River into Manhattan is not cheap. It's up to $16 at the moment.

"It's literally obscene, I think," Mahwah resident Barbara Schwartz said.

That drive to work or play is set to get even more expensive when congestion pricing kicks in roughly 16 months from now.

Depending on a host of factors, the fee for entering the Central Business District below 60th Street could range from $9-35.

In a virtual town hall Friday, the MTA heard from New Jersey residents.

Some support congestion pricing for the potential environmental benefits.

"The recent storms and flooding show that we can no longer ignore the devastating effects of climate change," New Jersey resident Corey Hannigan said.

Others see it as taxing New Jersey to pay for New York's problems.

The MTA is hoping the plan will raise $1 billion a year to improve mass transit, but with the city desperately trying to get workers back into office buildings, congestion pricing might just keep people working from home.

"The pandemic has showed us New Jerseyans don't even want to go to New York anymore, and if you increase their price, they're going to find a way not to go to New York," said Ron Simoncini, executive director of the Fair Congestion Pricing Alliance.

New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer has introduced bipartisan legislation that would block federal funding for MTA projects if congestion pricing goes through and does not exempt the New Jersey crossings.

"This is simply an attempt to mooch off of New Jersey," Gottheimer said.

The MTA acknowledges the plan could have major impacts for taxi and rideshare workers, many of whom are minorities.

Uber driver Danny Montes says he fears with higher prices, fewer people will want rides into the city and his family will suffer.

"I want to make an honest living, you know, pay my bills," he said.

Congestion pricing, he says, won't help.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he opposes any congestion pricing plan that would double the taxes on New Jersey drivers.

The MTA will hold more public hearings over the next few weeks for people who in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

CBS2's Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

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