NY threatens to punish New Jersey drivers with big fee for entering city
TRENTON – If you thought a potential $23 congestion pricing toll for driving into midtown or lower Manhattan was steep, now some New York state lawmakers might want to tack on another $50.
Legislation proposed in Albany would allow the imposition of an extra $50 fee on vehicles from New Jersey driven into New York City, if the Garden State enacts a law that prevents information from being shared in connection with camera-generated traffic tickets.
New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit the Motor Vehicle Commission from disclosing license holders’ personal information to other states seeking to issue speed camera or red-light camera citations. The Senate unanimously passed it in June, though the Assembly hasn’t yet taken it up.
The bill has angered some officials in New York, which utilizes the traffic camera enforcement technology.
'It’s my hope that the very prospect of this legislation might convince some New Jersey politicians to come to their senses.'
'A price to pay'
The proposed fee would apply to drivers entering the city from a “non-cooperative” state, in an effort to dissuade – or strong-arm, depending on your point of view – New Jersey from turning its bill into law. It’s not clear from the New York bill’s text how often the fee might be charged.
“It’s my hope that the very prospect of this legislation might convince some New Jersey politicians to come to their senses,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who represents parts of the Bronx and northern Manhattan, told New York Public Radio. “There’s going to have to be a price to pay if my bill passes.”
“The fact that New Jersey would intentionally aid and abet in traffic violence by letting their residents face no consequence for speeding is absolutely unconscionable,” Cory Epstein, a spokesman for the safe-streets advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, told New York Public Radio.
'Just how stupid they are'
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, a sponsor of the proposed New Jersey bill and outspoken opponent of automated traffic enforcement, blasted the New York proposal.
“The only thing that this has accomplished is that the idiots that introduced it demonstrated just how stupid they are,” O’Scanlon said.
O’Scanlon said there is no correlation between speed and red-light cameras and traffic safety, citing analyses that show states with automated enforcement do not have lower fatality and accident rates.
“These guys are not simply satisfied with victimizing their own constituents – and hey, those constituents have to suffer for having the leadership in New York that supports this government-sanctioned theft,” he said. “But they want to come after our constituents, too.”
O’Scanlon said New Jerseyans spend hundreds of millions a year in Manhattan and that the idea of another additional fee on them would further set back the city’s pandemic recovery.
He said New York lawmakers are trying to escalate a battle and asked where it would end.
“Maybe I’ll do a bill that’s going to charge New York drivers $100. And New York drivers won’t get the hell out of the left lane, so charging each of them $100 I think would be a little bit of justice,” O’Scanlon said. “So where does it stop? It’s just foolishness.”
Congestion pricing not affected
The New Jersey bill would not have any effect on New York’s congestion pricing plan, as it applies to devices that record images of license plates after detecting a vehicle speeding or traveling through an intersection after a light turned red.
New Jersey cooperates with other states on toll violations, such as through the E-ZPass consortium, and would continue to do so even if the pending bill becomes law.
Separately, New Jersey is opposing plans for new congestion pricing tolls south of 60th Street in Manhattan, particularly if credits are not given for the tolls already paid for crossing the Hudson River tunnels or George Washington Bridge.
Gov. Phil Murphy has written to the federal government asking for a more in-depth review of the plan.
On Monday, the state Assembly is due to vote on a resolution expressing its opposition to the congestion pricing plan, which it says “fails to treat residents of the state of New Jersey fairly and equitably.”