You are reading

Congestion Pricing Bill to be Introduced by State Assembly by Spring, Advocates For Tolls Claim

59thstbridge2007-276x3504

Dec. 9, 2015 By Christian Murray

A New York State Assembly bill is currently being drafted based on the controversial proposal to toll the free East River Bridges, including the Queensboro, according the advocacy group Move NY.

The bill is expected to be introduced in the State Assembly in spring, a representative from Move NY, which is spearheading the plan, told the Community Board 2 Transportation Committee on Monday.

The bill, which will be based on a proposal put forward by Move NY early this year, would introduce a $5.54 each way E-ZPass toll on the four free East River bridges, or $8 without E-ZPass. It would also toll Manhattan at 60th Street.

The plan would reduce fares on other, MTA-owned bridges, including the Triborough/RFK, Whitestone and Throgs Neck, by $2.50.

Plan advocates claim the new toll structure would raise an additional $1.5 billion in revenue each year that could then be used to fix a crumbling infrastructure, combat future MTA toll price hikes and support public transportation expansions through, for example, Select Bus Service or ferries.

“We will be introducing legislation through the State legislature this spring,” Jonathan Matz, campaign coordinator and analyst at Move NY, said at the committee meeting.

He said the bill is being “written as we speak” and that the group has Assembly members who will be introducing it. However, he said he is reluctant to name the sponsor(s) at this time.

Move NY argues that drivers should pay to use the congested East River bridges, particularly since mass transit is available in the areas they serve. The coalition also charges that the toll would reduce “bridge shopping,” where people deliberately drive to areas such as Queens Plaza to get onto a free bridge.

The plan needs to be passed by lawmakers in Albany to become a reality. While Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer came out in support of the plan earlier this year as well as more than a dozen other legislators in the Council’s progressive caucus, the decision will come to the State legislature.

The plan has received a mixed response from State officials.

At the Community Board 2 meeting earlier this month, State Sen. Mike Gianaris (who represents LIC/Astoria/Sunnyside/Woodside) said that he has spoken to representatives from Move NY and that he remains skeptical of the plan. He said that he would not hinder their effort to convince the public of its benefits, “but I am not there.”

State Sen. Jose Peralta, who represents Jackson Heights, is among the few Queens legislators who support the proposal.

“I believe this plan is reasonable and it makes sense. For too long, tolls on some bridges have grown year after year, while others have seen dwindling maintenance at the cost of a free ride,” he said.

Peralta added that “this is a chance to bring greater equity in the costs borne by commuters as we improve our transportation infrastructure and reduce traffic for years to come.”

Move NY argues that the plan is fairer for drivers on the Triborough/RFK and other tolled bridges, who it says are supporting the free bridges despite having fewer public transportation alternatives.

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, who represents Long Island City and Sunnyside, did not respond to phone calls. Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, who represents Astoria, could not be reached.

In April, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, in a joint statement supported by four State Senators and nine Assembly Members (including just one western Queens representative, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry), called the plan “unfair to the families who live in the transit desert of Queens as it would landlock our borough.”

The statement questioned whether the plan would generate any tangible transportation upgrades for Queens residents or amount to anything more than “an interesting idea.”

Matz recognized on Monday that “Queens will be a tough nut to crack” but said that Move NY has had meetings with several Queens legislators in recent times who have softened their stance toward the plan.

“There is a built in population that will reflexively reject tolling reform,” Matz said. However, “the more people we speak to, the less misperception there is out there.”

2015 Move NY Executive Summary by Queens Post

email the author: news@queenspost.com

2 Comments

Click for Comments 
moonchild

Oh man! I don’t drive much but I’ve definitely gone over the bridge to/from Queens to midtown several times by accident. They’ll need to fix up the signage before implementing something like this.

Reply
Peter

The tolls on the East River Bridges divides the city even further sealing possible secession of the outer boroughs from New York City particularly the residents of Brooklyn and Queens. The MTA has a case history of falsifying the books with the CEOs allegedly pocketing most of the revenue from subway, bus, and current bridge & tunnell tolls. They have been requested to be audited but the CEOs refused to be audited. Before any toll is to be imposed, the MTA must be audited and prove that their capital programs are on track. The focus should be not on tolls for the East River Bridges but on restoring honesty to the state organization. Also additional Park & Ride facilities need to be built near subway stations so that will ease automobile traffic into Manhattan. Bloomberg closed most of the Park & Ride Facilities with the results of more cars entering Manhattan. By restoring the Park & Ride facilities and expanding them as well, there will be less traffic into Manhattan and more subway riders. That is a more fair solution rather than new tolls.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

NYPD searching for burglary crew that targeted nearly 30 laundromats in Queens and others in Brooklyn and the Bronx

Police from the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst are looking for three masked men who broke into Susan’s Laundromat at 85-12 Grand Ave. at around 3:15 a.m. on Monday, June 24, while a fourth member of their crew acted as a lookout near their getaway car parked in front.

The burglars stole $1,800 in cash and removed a payment machine for the laundry room continuing an undetermined amount of cash.

Law enforcement ghost car crackdowns continue with dozens of vehicles seized on Whitestone Bridge: MTA

MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers, the NYPD and law enforcement partners impounded 55 vehicles from motorists crossing into Queens on the Whitestone Bridge on Monday, July 8, as a multi-agency crackdown continued unabated.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday that through 25 joint enforcement operations focusing on ghost plates and persistent toll violators on bridges and tunnels throughout New York City, 1,540 vehicles have been impounded, 339 arrests have been made and 12,007 summonses have been issued so far this year to drivers who owe more than $12.5 million in unpaid tolls and fees.