Due to the Loss of Congestion Pricing, New Jerseyans Must Pay $1,000 to Watch the July 4 Fireworks
Macy’s Fireworks over the East River on Friday, July 4, 2014 (Diana Robinson / Mayoral Photography Office)

Due to the Loss of Congestion Pricing, New Jerseyans Must Pay $1,000 to Watch the July 4 Fireworks

Call it "combustion pricing."

Three days after the toll readers were supposed to switch on, Governor Kathy Hochul's congestion pricing pause has already cost New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars, nearly 20,000 tons in additional air pollution, and more than 10 collective years of our short lives stuck in traffic. 

As environmental and safe streets advocates mull their legal options, and state lawmakers do…whatever it is they are doing, we here at Hell Gate have a novel solution to stanch the bleeding of the $16.5 billion loss the MTA is feeling without resorting to congestion pricing.


This year, for the first time in 11 years (fate!) the Macy's 4th of July fireworks display is happening on the Hudson River. Normally, this would mean that potentially millions of people IN NEW JERSEY would be able to feast their eyes and ears on our (New York's) fireworks display, gratis. 

Unfortunately, this is not a normal year. Due to budgetary restrictions imposed by Governor Hochul's congestion pricing pause, this kind of freeloading is no longer tenable. While Governor Hochul specifically spared hard-working New Jersey drivers who patronize diners in Midtown on their way to hardware stores when she stopped congestion pricing, surely she would agree that Garden State spectators should not be able to aurally and sonically gorge themselves on what are, and have always been, New York's fireworks.

Accordingly, New York should charge every New Jerseyan who wishes to see the fireworks a fee that would fund the MTA. Call it "combustion pricing." The population of Hudson County, New Jersey is around 700,000 people. Toss in some eyeballs from Bergen County to the north, discount those New Jerseyans who chose to travel for the 4th, and let's say an even 1 million people will be subject to the combustion charge.

If the combustion charge is a mere $20, that would mean New York could raise $20 million on the July 4 combustion charge. This sounds like a nice big number, but it's barely what congestion pricing would have netted in less than two weeks. Remember, congestion pricing by law had to raise $1 billion every year for the MTA, and the combustion charge must do the same.

That means the combustion charge must be $1,000. If one million New Jersey residents each pay $1,000 for the sacred and patriotic privilege of viewing and listening to the July 4 fireworks on the Hudson River, New York will raise $1 billion for mass transit, and New Jersey residents won't have to pay that nasty congestion charge. Everyone wins. The founding fathers would have loved this elegant solution to one of the republic's most vexing problems, and we can do it all again next year.

Here are some more links to read while you listen to "God Bless the USA":

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