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

 

Queensboro Bridge (Photo: nyc.gov)

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

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15 Comments

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Sixbot

Reducing driving is a good thing overall. We live in the city with the best public transportation in the country. We should take advantage of that to as great an extent as possible.

Reply
Mike Novak

I have been a huge supporter of JVB for many years now.
BUT once he became Viv’s lapdog and is all-in for “congestion pricing” I have to jump off the bandwagon.
Jimmy…if you toll the 59th St bridge…MORE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO PARK IN SUNNYSIDE and take the subway in.
Jimmy…you are screwing the people you serve.

Reply
Screwed again

Once again the middle class working families take it
Who is gonna hurt more then us. And plus they can’t keep the 7train running right now wait till there is more people thanks jimmy van dummy wait for for reelection your gone

Reply
Gardens Watcher

Theorem Ox is right, except it won’t be fun. Sure hope you don’t have to travel often to Manhattan hospitals or to medical appointments over the bridge. Sorrynotsorry is right — another straw for me too.

Reply
Eurozone

This would be more effective I believe, if off peak on peak pricing would be incorporated instead of an all day flat rate. Or something like after 10pm it would be like 50¢ to cross. Just a thought :).

Reply
Anonymous visitor

I am for tolls on Queensboro Bridge. I just wish that money stayed in NYC and didn’t go to Albany. I am tired of looking for parking spot because many are taken by Long Island commuters. Also I am tired of traffic any time I try to go by car to Manhattan.

Reply
Theorem Ox

Have fun paying more for your travels while dealing with even more loss of parking spaces in western Queens and virtually no substantial reduction in traffic congestion over the long term. (If you live in Queens neighborhoods near QBB or subway stops – you can look forward to quality of life dropping yet again as extra pockets of congestion build up here by the toll evaders)

Reply
Anonymous visitor

They should issue special parking permits for Sunnyside residents and make some streets parking for residents only on workdays.

Reply
me

Well Van Bramer I see youre still not done kissing DeBlasio and Viverto’s butts – but when your pal DeBlasio is voted OUT who you gonna hook up with next? You are nothing but a phony bleeding heart liberal between your useless bike lanes and now tolls on bridges – I will vote ANYONE and CAMPAIGN for ANYONE but you……gonna love it when youre a nobody again – remember you couldnt even catch the scandal at the NYPL…..youre as phony and corrupt as your predecessors!

Reply
David

_Me Vote in Fox News. They seem to have your brainwashing prone ear. Do you speak with any other propaganda buzz words? We see your heart bleeds for the typical fat loud mouth know it all blowhard…If you can;t afford to live here just move, loser.Oklahoma and Texas sound right for you. Low wage, low performing and low IQ.

Reply
George B.

I’m not happy about tolls on the East River Bridges! For a person like me living in NW Queens, I have to pay $8 cash each was to cross the Queensboro Bridge, but all the other bridges will then get a reduction from $8 to $3? How is that even fair to someone who lives in the city and is already paying for the privilege of living here? On top of that, all goods and services will rise in cost to pass it on to the consumers thanks to congestion pricing.

The Move NY docs initially talk about the public having to pay for the MTA debt with toll and fare increases. How are putting tolls on all East River Bridges and charging anyone an extra $5.50/$8 by moving below 60th Street NOT a burden on the public, exactly? Somehow, with the money they raise, buses and express buses will offset the number of commuters that are already taxing the MTA’s system?? This sounds like a plan hatched by a bunch of people who live outside of NYC. Charge residents more to access the city and then charge commuters living OUTSIDE the city LESS so they have unfettered access to everything. I really don’t think so! Why not just build a wall around Manhattan below 60 Street and call it a day?

As for modernization of the train lines, obviously none of these people take the 7 train. Updating the the CBTC has not been a boon after over 5 years of work, with more work planned for who knows how long. The MTA can’t even put in the same systems for the other train lines, much less countdown clocks which run on a different system because the MTA is totally screwed up. I think Move NY should focus on looking at the MTA budgets to see where there is wasteful spending along with the lack of communication and coordination to create a proper plan to bring its services into the 21st century.

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