Rockland County Takes Legal Action Against MTA & TBTA Over ‘Unfair’ Congestion Pricing Plan, Citing Discrimination and Illegal Tax Claims

On Wednesday, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and the County of Rockland filed a lawsuit against the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) & Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) over its Congestion Pricing plan. The Complaint, on behalf of the County of Rockland and Edwin J. Day, seeks an injunction against the commencement of the upcoming Central Business District Toll.

“We are joining the fight against the Congestion Pricing Plan and its grossly unfair impact on Rocklanders and other west of the Hudson commuters,” said County Executive Day.

“The way this is being implemented is unfair and inequitable which is what the lawsuit is about,” said County Attorney Thomas Humbach.

The Complaint contends that the toll is invalid and should be enjoined because:

  • It violates the Equal Protection Clause of the New York State and United States Constitutions by discriminating against drivers from outside the central business district, and in favor of people who garage their cars within the district. Despite individual drivers from both groups adding equally to congestion, people from outside the CBD have to pay a toll and those who garage their cars inside do not have to pay a toll unless they leave and re-enter.
  • The toll is an illegal tax. The MTA/TBTA, with their wide portfolio of goals, responsibilities and powers, act as a government in spending the revenues for the general public benefit. This is the hallmark of a tax. The Legislature did not authorize the MTA/TBTA to implement a tax, but only a toll. The New York State Constitution requires taxation authority to be expressly stated by the State Legislature, which it was not. Thus, the toll constitutes an illegal tax and the MTA/TBTA should be enjoined from implementing it.
  • The MTA/TBTA failed to properly analyze the possibility of a toll reduction for persons paying the GWB toll or other tolls for transportation infrastructure. This was a duty of the Traffic Mobility Review Board. The MTA/TBTA should be enjoined from charging Rockland residents the toll until this is properly studied.
  • Because the toll is implemented to deter people from driving it is subject to the Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive fines. The toll constitutes an “excessive fine” because, among other reasons, it arbitrarily penalizes an otherwise legal activity, driving in midtown and lower Manhattan. Also, because it is not charged in any scale to the amount of congestion or other factor intended to be deterred by the toll, even very short drives receive the full impact of the toll.
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