Plans for 7-Train to Jersey, Revival of Congestion Pricing Accelerate

As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie filed legal papers last night to prevent the return $271 million in federal ARC Tunnel funding, he revealed on Bloomberg TV that he still wants to use the money for the theoretical extension of the 7-Train into the ARC Tunnel. The discussion begins around the 2:45 mark and culminates a minute later with this from the governor: “I don’t see us revisiting it, the ARC Tunnel has moved on. But here’s what we are doing, we’re having conversations with Mayor Bloomberg and others regarding the potential extension of the number 7-Train to Seacacus, New Jersey.”

A Bloomberg administration official told WNYC that talks do indeed continue.

If that news may excite some Jersey commuters, here is something that won’t: a handful of politicians are quietly working to revive congestion pricing, according to the Daily News. The Bloomberg administration has been working on “traffic pricing,” as it is now being dubbed, for months.

Given the current backlash to something so simple as bike lanes, combined with the recession and general tax resistance, this seems like a more unlikely effort than ever, especially with a governor who is averse even to a soda pop tax and has called congestion pricing “moot” during his campaign.

So what makes this time around different? The new plan could arguably be called as a possible tax cutter, whereby the hated payroll tax will be slashed to garner support with lawmakers outside the city. For those inside the five boroughs, the carrot is some restored subway and bus service and no fare hike next year, as is currently planned. Plus, the revenue would help get the MTA on more sustainable funding footing.

That could go a long way toward building the grassroots support “traffic pricing” will need to combat opposition to what one transit advocate called a still “radioactive” plan: “It was an issue of credibility. It’s not going to happen top-down.”

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo

Plans for 7-Train to Jersey, Revival of Congestion Pricing Accelerate