Jan. 31, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan
Queens residents support the placement of a toll on the Queensboro Bridge—and three other bridges—as a means to generate funding to bolster the transit system and improve roadways, according to poll data released by the activist group Transportation Alternatives.
The survey, conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, revealed that 55 percent of those Queens residents surveyed, and 54 percent of all respondents, support the addition of a toll at the Queensboro Bridge—as well as the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges—as a way to generate income for the transit system as opposed to other revenue-raising measures.
The toll on these four bridges under the proposed Move NY plan would cost $5.54 each way if paid by E-ZPass and $8 each way for other drivers.
The plan to raise tolls, which was hatched by the transportation lobby group Move NY, aims to raise revenue, decrease traffic congestion while creating a more equitable tolling structure. For instance, under the Move NY plan, the toll would be lowered at the Triborough/RFK and other existing tolled bridges.
The tolls on these bridges would be lowered by $2.50 each way.
The advocates for the Move NY plan claim that the plan would disincentivize drivers from using the Queensboro Bridge, therefore reducing congestion and pollution around Queens Plaza.
Surveyors spoke with 880 likely voters throughout the city and gave them four options as to how funds would be best raised to improve the transportation system, asking the respondents to pick their favorite.
The respondents were told ahead of time that there was a need for additional revenue and that some drivers pay high tolls to cross bridges in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island while other drivers pay no tolls at all on most bridges leading into Manhattan.
The survey offered respondents the options of raising subway and bus fares, raising taxes on all residents, introducing new tolls on bridges that lead into Manhattan that are currently without tolls, while lowering them on bridges in other locations that already have high tolls, or none of the above.
Those interviewed mostly chose the toll swapping option, with 54 percent saying they would prefer the Move NY proposal. Only six percent supported raising public transportation fares, and 16 percent supported raising taxes. 24 percent said either none of the above or they didn’t know.
“These poll results show that a wide range of New Yorkers, even those who drive, support a more equitable tolling system that would raise essential funds to strengthen transit and give communities an unprecedented say about which repair and expansion projects are most urgently needed,” said Paul White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, the group that administered the survey.
The proposal was introduced in the State Assembly and State Senate last year, and is expected to be reintroduced again this year.
The state will determine if the plan goes into effect.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose husband Dan Hendrick is on the board of Transportation Alternatives, has been an outspoken supporter of the plan.
An informal poll on this website and other Queenspost publications in 2015 revealed that more than 80 percent of the 2,100 respondents (separate IP addresses) opposed the placement of a toll on the Queensboro Bridge.