New Jersey residents have always boasted of how we have cheaper gasoline prices than in our neighboring states, such as New York or Pennsylvania. In fact, gas prices in New Jersey are the second lowest in the country, with Alaska being the lowest. New Jersey is still the only state in the nation where it is against the law to pump your own gas. However, Governor Chris Christie implemented a new law on November 1st, which increased gas prices by 23 cents per gallon. The tax is supposed to go towards the state’s deteriorating infrastructure and the Transportation Trust Fund, where the depletion of funds led Governor Christie to order an emergency shutdown of many projects to build roads, bridges, and railways. For some, the increase is minor and has not made a dent in their finances. Other, such as taxi and Uber drivers, are feeling the tax affects their wallets. On a more positive note, the gas tax also came with a tax cut for working class people, senior citizens, military veterans, and property owners of New Jersey.
New Jersey is known to be a hub state for commuters to New York City as well as Philadelphia. The gas tax will affect primarily drivers, at least in the beginning. The anti-tax climate of the United States presents a significant backlash whenever a new tax is proposed, but this tax is exactly the kind of public transportation planning that the state needs. Commuters from the North Jersey suburbs and Hoboken and Jersey City are growing in numbers, and the railways must be safe enough to accommodate them. As John Levy states in Contemporary Urban Planning, “a major problem with transit is that financially it is far from self sustaining” (251). Although New Jersey has a great deal of urban sprawl, which poses environmental issues, we are lucky to have generally close proximity to urban areas and access to great public transportation to them. As transportation shapes future patterns of land use, it is imperative that public transit in New Jersey remains top notch to sustain future generations.
Different interests have supported and argued against the tax, but organizations such as AAA have argued that the damage done by unsafe, pothole-filled roads costs more in repairs for cars, trucks, and buses than does the increase in gas prices overall. The timing of this tax increase is an unlucky but necessary one, as many people can recall the recent crash of a New Jersey Transit train in Hoboken that killed one woman and injured more than 100 people. Furthermore, Newark’s federal court has just settled the lawsuit of top officials in the Christie administration involved in the “Bridgegate” scandal of closing the access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in order to punish the Fort Lee governor for refusing to endorse Christie’s re-election. As the governor’s term will come to a close next year and tax revenue is collected for the purpose of improving infrastructure, I think residents will be eager to see a positive change in our transportation for the future.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.