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Van Bramer Backs Plans to Introduce Toll at Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge (Photo: nyc.gov)

Oct. 27, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge

A controversial proposal to toll the free East River Bridges, including the Queensboro, has earned the support of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

The proposal, put forward by the coalition Move NY in February, would introduce tolls on the Queensboro and other East River bridges of $5.54 each way with E-ZPass, or $8 without.

However the plan would also reduce fares on other major bridges, including the Triborough/RFK, by up to 48 percent.

Move NY believes that this “toll swap” would be more fair for drivers on the Triborough/RFK and other tolled bridges, who are supporting the free bridges despite having fewer public transportation alternatives. Meanwhile, it would deincentivize the Queensboro Bridge, therefore reducing congestion and pollution around Queens Plaza.

Move NY also says its plan would generate $1.35 billion annually, to create a consistent funding stream for the MTA’s capital plan as well as supporting public transportation expansions through, for example, select bus service or ferries.

“We’ve seen massive congestion problems both on the subway cars and platforms of the 7 train themselves, and then in addition to that, in the run up to the Queensboro Bridge,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “That’s why I am saying now we need to focus on this investment into our mass transit. The Move NY plan is the best and most responsible way to get us there.”

“This is a responsible way to ensure that the MTA’s needs are fully funded on an ongoing basis without putting a financial burden on the backs of riders,” he added.

Van Bramer joins several of his colleagues in the Council in supporting the Move NY plan; his endorsement is particularly significant due to his role as Majority Leader. Move NY Campaign Director Alex Matthiessen called his support “a nice shot in the arm.”

However, the plan has also earned a number of detractors, especially in areas of Queens where access to public transportation is scant.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has called the plan “certainly unfair to the families who live in the transit desert of Queens as it would landlock our borough.”

Katz questioned whether the plan would generate any tangible transportation upgrades for Queens residents or amount to anything more than “an interesting idea,” in an April statement co-signed by 18 Queens city and state representatives.

Ultimately, the Move NY plan would be enacted on the state level. Move NY has put forth legislative parameters aimed at preventing new revenue from being used for purposes other than transportation.

The full plan is available online here.

Reach reporter Jackie Strawbridge at [email protected]

Is Move NY’s plan worth paying a toll for?

email the author: [email protected]

163 Comments

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walt

you’re talking about a plumber who stays in Manhattan all day…not realistic..many people in this type of service business travel back and fore and to multiple boroughs. Lets be realistic, do you honestly think that people are driving into Manhattan fighting traffic because they want to? No and even this has caused major parking problems for residents who have a hard time finding parking because of commuters who park here and take the train the rest of the way…that problem would increase exponentially and just move the congestion into the neighborhoods closest to Manhattan. you are borrowing from peter to pay paul, and bringing your “clean air” to the boroughs instead of the bridges…there is no less bad air with congestion pricing…you are part of the problem …Sophistry my friend…I think you might just be a pawn in JVB’s camp !!

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Andrew

Even if you’re right that a plumber enters and exits Manhattan multiple times each day, I don’t understand why this matters. Congestion will be reduced in Manhattan during the time that he is there, and it will be reduced outside of Manhattan as well as traffic is more evenly dispersed between all of the East River crossings. Remember, too, that he will only pay one round-trip toll per day.

I *know* that many people drive into Manhattan because they want to. A 2006 study found that “most people who drive into Manhattan below 60th Street do so because of the comfort and convenience of their cars, ignoring easily available public transportation.”

Experience in the other cities that have enacted congestion pricing shows that congestion would not “increase exponentially” in the communities that border Manhattan’s CBD. Also, as mentioned above, traffic would be more evenly dispersed among the equally-priced East River crossings. Right now there’s a lot of congestion leading up to the free bridges, even though the tunnels are under capacity. Move NY would fix this problem.

There’s plenty of peer-reviewed academic research that shows congestion pricing works, and that all of the fears that opponents drum up don’t bear out. I encourage you to spend some time reading this research — I think you would be convinced!

Bottom line is that New York’s current transportation system isn’t working, and New Yorkers need and deserve better. Let’s fix it.

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Walt

So by your logic congestion pricing would allow someone like the plummer you mentioned the possibility to travel back and forth more often…do you hear what you are saying…with tolls designed a certain way more businesses can travel more in one day…that is counter intuitive. I am not really concerned about London or Stockholm because-the very sub context to all of this is gentrification here. IT’s not OK that the poor are being squeezed out…and this is one more instance of the little guy losing out and being to forced to move out because people with money don’t want to sit in traffic….so lets get rid of the people who really can’t afford to pay these tolls as much as we can dynamic…housing gentrification, road gentrification…soon water and air gentrification…when I was young we scoffed at the notion that someday people would pay for water…toll roads were not abundant and affordable…you want blood from a turnip, and if that turnip can’t give blood, lets slowly change the map so only people who can are allowed to be here…..this cities gonna turn one day and say enough is enough…

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Andrew

I’m saying that the plumber who enters Manhattan in the morning will spend less time sitting in traffic and will be able to complete more plumbing jobs before he leaves Manhattan at the end of the day. That means more money in his pocket, even if he must pay a toll. That plumber was going to be in Manhattan anyway, so he’s not contributing to congestion any more than he already would have.

What the Move NY charge does is disincentivize unnecessary car trips while increasing the efficiency and decreasing the impact of those who are going to travel by car.

NOBODY likes sitting in traffic; it’s not just rich people who feel that way. Traffic congestion affects EVERYONE — rich or poor, Manhattanite or not. There are serious health concerns associated with noise and exhaust fumes. Congestion costs our economy billions every year (yes, with a B; see here: http://www.pfnyc.org/reports/Growth%20or%20Gridlock.pdf ). I would argue that these costs affect poor people disproportionately more than they cost rich people.

You say that you don’t care about London or Stockholm, but those cities, too, are gentrifying (particularly London). There’s no indication that their congestion pricing programs have contributed to gentrification. We can’t simply bury our heads in the sand and ignore what happens elsewhere in the world. Other cities can provide valuable lessons to us, and we only hurt ourselves by ignoring those lessons.

Finally, I reject your notion that congestion pricing will hurt poor people. What about those who are so poor that they cannot even afford a car? Many New Yorkers fall under that category. These people suffer from all the negatives of traffic congestion (noise, pollution, economy, etc), AND they suffer from a woefully inadequate public transportation system. Charging drivers (who are, by necessity, somewhat wealthier than people who cannot afford car ownership) a fee to enter one of the most crowded places in the world would mitigate some of those negatives, but, more importantly, it would provide desperately needed funding to improve and expand the MTA. Imagine how much better life would be for everyone, but particularly for poor people, if that were to happen.

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Andrew

Walt, under the Move NY plan, the “small businessman” you mention would only have to pay one round-trip toll per day. In exchange for that one toll, though, he/she spends less time sitting in traffic and has a more productive workday. So a plumber, for example, can fit in an extra plumbing job during the day, or a driver can make an extra delivery. That makes for a significant return on a ~$15 toll investment — well worth it!

You also say that the program “will not have the desired effect,” but all of the available evidence suggests otherwise. London and Stockholm are also cities that are expanding and gentrifying — and London, especially, is a notoriously expensive city. Yet the road pricing programs implemented in both cities were remarkably successful. Both cities saw surges in public support for their respective programs after they were implemented, despite considerable skepticism beforehand. There’s no reason to believe the same thing wouldn’t happen in New York.

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Walt

NYC is being regentrified at an alarming rate. this means that the toll price will not have desired affect. the rich will always be able to pay for a toll and the congestion will remain the same. I understand paying a toll coming into the city and for the tunnel and triborough because there are alternatives. but we should not have to pay for general use of bridges within the city….think of the small businessman making deliveries back and forth…its a crime to charge people for use of this bridge. Maybe Add a yearly usage tax for residents and a toll for non residents…all it takes is a sticker readable on the windshield or plate. JVB will never get another vote from me and I’ll be happy to protest against this. He claims he is for the little man, when this is exactly who it will affect.

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Kvn

I think having a toll is a great idea. Anything to help stop this absurd crowding and too many cars in Manhattan. Not to mention all those junk trucks that seem to love to break down on the bridge. Anything that encourages people to take the bus and/or subway makes sense.

The one thing I might think about is having the toll vary given the time. I could see late at night either suspending or greatly dropping the toll for cars as a compromise, Say from 10 pm to 6 pm. there are no tolls on the bridge. In short, if the main benefit of tolls (besides money for the transit system) is controlling the flow of cars into Manhattan then I think you can flex the tolls. You should also flex or suspend tolls for taxis as they are also a form of public transport.

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A.Bundy

i seriously dont know how anyone here can afford to have a car. it costs more than rent! car payment+gas+maintenance+toll+parking+tickets+towing+hard to find parking spots…its just not worth it. no wonder NYC public schools dont teach teens how to drive. feels like 3rd world here.

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Owen May

I reside in Wisconsin, where there are no tolls on roads or bridges. But I grew up in the close shadows of the Queensboro and Triborough bridges — in Astoria and Woodside — and often asked myself sitting in traffic even then: does it really cost all this 24/7 per-vehicle tariff to keep the bridges and tunnels of NYC functioning safely and efficiently?

In Wisconsin, we somehow cover the cost of excellent roads and bridges without tolls. I suspect if a toll was introduced here, it would spiral ever higher. That is, after all, the natural order of things — more money prompting more spending prompting the call for more money, etc. etc. etc.

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Woodside Lifer #2

I agree with Owen May. Once the politicians get their hands on more money they will find a way to spend it, or give it away. It should be a requirement to run for office in NYC that a candidate have an IQ at least equal to his/her age. As for the toll spiraling even higher, as unbelievable as it might seem to the young guys & gals reading this, I remember when the toll for the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Cross Bay Bridge was only a thin dime.

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Owen May

Yes…and I remember when the subway was 15 cents — and much simpler than it is now. (Who was the genius that disposed of tokens and instead went to the metro pass — which I still don’t get? On visits to the city now, I feel like a yokel asking dumb questions of the attendant. And half the time, the pass doesn’t seem to work. I have hopped turnstiles under the cold eye of several MTA officers. I guess I’m too old and innocent-looking for them to drop the hammer.)

I miss the token turnstiles and the simplicity of three lines: the BMT, the IRT and the IND. Yes…the good old days.

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Krs

What a stupid idea …The only people that like it are bunch of yuppie out of towers that don’t own cars .. If the cars have to pay to use the bridge so should the bicyclists And if your going to do this on 59th st bridge then just do it on all the crossings … Can’t stand grown people on bikes .., loooossssers …. If your on the street you should have insurance just like cars and motorcycles and pay a tolls …

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OldenDays

“[Sam Schwartz] had his office at Queens Plaza for more than 11 years and watched the traffic paralysis, pollution and crashes grow on Queens and Northern boulevards each time tolls increased. He has traced more than 40,000 cars, trucks, and buses daily that drive away from the Queens Midtown Tunnel and RFK Bridge to the streets of Sunnyside, Long Island City, Astoria and Hunters Point en route to the “free” Queensboro Bridge. Without this toll shopping, these neighborhoods will see traffic reductions.”
http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/why-sam-is-right-and-rory-s-not-on-move/article_e3da9c2d-6941-5fd1-a98c-a1c9a736a8f4.html

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Data Guy

This is great. Politicians are finally seeing the benefits of toll reform and getting behind the idea that people should pay to use infrastructure. Traffic-choked streets and crossings can be freed up, air will be cleaner, and trailer trucks won’t barrel through Chinatown to avoid the VNB toll. It’s exciting to think that we could actually see this happen.

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Bronx Resident

Congestion pricing has been proven to reduce congestion. With more limited automotive volumes we could repurpose substantial street space. Imagine more bus only lanes, physically separated bicycle lanes, pedestrian plazas, extended sidewalks, more loading zones and less off street parking facilities.

Additionally, balancing the tolls will reduce the incentive for avoiding infrastructure which was designed for higher automotive volume (E.g. Queens-Midtown Tunnel). This will more equally distribute traffic, reducing congestion in areas surrounding the free Bridges.

Improvements to public health come of this.

Finally, increased funding for transportation.

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Rachel

I am a resident of Queens. I own a car, use buses and trains, walk a lot, and sometimes ride a bike, so I understand what it is like to get around the city using different types of transportation.

I think the Move NY plan makes a lot of sense, and I am very much in favor of it.

Underlying the debate on adding tolls on the Queensboro Bridge is the question of whether any river crossings should have tolls at all–and, that is a fair question.After all, isn’t this a regressive tax, since all drivers have to pay the same toll no matter their income? Shouldn’t we simply pay higher income taxes to pay for our transportation infrastructure? That would certainly seem a lot more equitable and affordable.

But, NYC needs tolls, not just to pay for infrastructure, but as an incentive for more people to get out of their cars and use mass transit, walk or ride bikes. Our city needs to move a lot of people, and we can’t all be driving–there just isn’t enough room on our roads and bridges for everyone to drive as their primary means of transportation. When bridges are free, and people do the math, they often find it cheaper to drive to Manhattan rather than getting on a bus or train.

The free Queensboro Bridge has proven this point, creating a dangerous and polluted mess of traffic near the bridge in Queens. Raise the cost of driving, and more people use mass transit, bike or walk. And, if they really need to drive, maybe some will shift over to the midtown tunnel, which is less congested, and bypasses neighborhood streets.

Yes, I understand some people have very legitimate reasons for needing or wanting to drive their cars. For those people, it is really difficult to live in a highly populated, dense city. But there are also many people who simply prefer to drive even though they have good alternatives.

Hopefully the funds raised through tolls will help improve mass transit, so there are more options for people living in transit deserts and people with disabilities.

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Anonymous visitor

The road design creates the mess. The traffic has not gotten any worse over the six years I have been driving into and out of Manhattan every day. Get more traffic cops there. That is a cheaper solution.

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Bronx Resident

Traffic studies prove that you are wrong. Overall congestion is worse due to excess vehicular volume. This is expected to only get worse if nothing is done.

Automotive congestion in NYC has also been an issue for a very long time.

More recent road reconfigurations have mostly improved traffic flow and safety at implemented locations

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Anonymous visitor

So now studies are more reliable than lived experience? Are you an academic. They are the only people I know who would believe what is written down by a supposed authority rather than the evidence of their own life. Good luck.

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Anonymous visitor

You can rely on data. I am relying on my own lived experience. My car commute took about 40 minutes today, pretty much the norm for years and years.

ddartley

The plan would REDUCE tolls on bridges that serve people who have fewer transit options. The plan makes a lot of sense, and it improves in several ways on Bloomberg’s previous idea.

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Carmine

Not a good idea:
More traffic at bridge tolls
Cost of goods will go up (oh yeah and sales tax revenue too)

Just another revenue generating gimmick they are trying to shove down our throats.

“It’s not fair” IS NOT TRUE….everybody pays to travel to manhattan

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Bronx Resident

1) Electronic tolling.
2) Tolling discourages use.
3) Cost of goods will not rise in response.
4) This is necessary to reduce congestion and increase revenue.

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Your Neighbor

Decades of riding the train convinced me it was not safe for any woman who doesn’t like being groped and worse. So, in the early 90s I communted by bike, before there were dedicated bike lanes anywhere. A collision with a panel truck cured me of that. I walked 5 miles round trip for a while but eventually got a job outside the city. I came back in the early 2000s and tried the bike again, but my vision, reflexes and back are not what they once were. And many of the bikers I encountered were grossly aggressive. I cut a deal with my employer; they pay half and I pay half of discounted parking in the residential neighborhood I work in. If the city made the trains safe and efficient I would ride them again. They are worse now than they ever were.

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Zinsu

I am a woman who has taken the train at least twice a day, every day, for the past 25 years. I have never been groped on the subway. Sidewalks, yes. Trains, never. Come back. It’s way safer than driving.

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Anonymous visitor

Not at all. I’ve been perfectly safe from idiots like you since sticking to my car. How’s your mental health? Get a check up for symptoms of denial. You show signs of a potentially fatal case.

AMH

Having free bridges right next to tolled facilities makes no sense. Neither does a $15 toll to go from Brooklyn to NJ, with a free alternate route across lower Manhattan. I want to see a unified, logical system with different agencies working together. Move NY looks like the best chance of this happening.

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Lisa

Tolls would be collected like they are on the Thruway and the NJ turnpike, with EZPass and license plate billing. No toll booths = no traffic build up. Travel would be up to 20% faster. 5 of 6 Queens bridges already tolled will be reduced by up to 48%. You can learn more at http://www.iHeartMoveNY.org

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Anonymous visitor

Freedom of movement is over. Sheeple like you not only thank the government for tracking your every move, you promote every opportunity the seek to track us even more. You are a depressing person.

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Sean Ogre

Glad to see we all agree on something here…. We’ll take one for the team, just put a toll booth on the front door of our apartment. Let’s start small rather than sending traffic all the way back to Western Beef on Northern.

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Lisa

There would be no toll booths to collect the fare, so there would be no traffic build up. Tolls would be collected like they are on the Thruway and the NJ turnpike, with EZPass and license plate billing. Travel would be up to 20% faster. 5 of 6 Queens bridges already tolled will be reduced by up to 48%. You can learn more at http://www.iHeartMoveNY.org

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Walt

when do the the protests start? where do I sign up? Jimmy has crossed the line of no return. now 2 things must be accomplished…stop this idiocy and stop the idiot…vote this yes man clown outta here

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Rob

Van Bramer is one of the few politicians not sticking his head in the sand. He should be congratulated in trying to safeguard our streets and subways. It is easy to win elections with “just say no” diatribes, but harder to actually govern by making tough choices. Van Bramer is making the tough choices, and should be congratulated for his courage.

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Ben

tough to believe this will help stem the tide of rising train fares for ongoing projects off the backs of riders but now we must contend with the specter of rising tolls too

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Avoid the Noid

Implanting RFID chips in the right hand or forehead of all Queens residents should be mandatory. Implementing a toll system will be easy with this simple measure in place.

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Gardens watcher

Many LI drivers already park for free in Sunnyside and jump on the subway into Manhattan. If there’s going to be a toll on the QB bridge, even more LI drivers will clog the local streets trolling for parking spots rather than paying the toll. I’m not a fan of resident-only parking, but that will likely have to follow since the Ed Koch toll will have the same effect on local traffic and parking as Bloomberg’s congestion pricing idea.

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AMH

Sounds like a reason to fix parking policy! There’s no reason drivers should be able to clutter public streets with their private vehicles for free. A RPP program would help a lot.

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Celticparker

Of courseJimmy supports this ,anything that gives him and his cronies a nice wary fuzzy feeling …….Can you say Bridgegate !

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Sunnyside _Native

How about a bike lane toll? Why don’t they have to pay? Maybe it could help pay for the STUPID bike lanes on QB!!

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Bronx Resident

You want to discourage bicycling over the bridge? You want more people on transit and driving?

Did you think this statement through?

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Peter B.

How does that make any sense? Bikes don’t pollute, don’t take up much space, don’t cause pot holes. They don’t kill 3-5 people every week. They take cars off the roads, and free up seats on buses and trains. These are all socially useful things that policy makers should want to encourage. You don’t impose an added cost to people on bikes, because you want to encourage more people to bike. You impose a cost on drivers, because we should discourage people from driving. Yes that may negatively effect you, and I’m sorry, but it is good policy because your use of the car has a negative effect on the rest of society. Policy making should not be about petty vindictiveness, it should be about what causes the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It really is that simple.

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4 cent traffic hell

5.54 each way? Just make it 5.50, you want people scrambling for pennies in all that traffic?

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Rachel

IF you pay cash, it would be $8. The $5.54 would be for EZ Pass customers, who would not need pennies to pay.

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Anonymous visitor

But they would then be part of the surveillance state. Cash is legal tender in the US unless you are a driver, then, they won’t take it. Gotta track the movement of people in cars.

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rikki

FROM A REAL DRIVER……….i dont remember the QB always being backed up this badly since those kondozes were built and those people just had to have a park and bike lanes

you used to be able to make a choice to go up on the upper level but since they blocked that off even buses have to make that awful left turn almost hitting the steel structure or a head on collision, to get on the side road

this mayor hates cars, all of sunnyside is losing parking spaces each day by extending the sidewalks…and people are starting to park blocks away from where they live…taking away our spaces we’ve had for the last 15 years.

i need a car for work just try and get from sunnyside to middle village or canarsie or the bronx …..and DOT took more spaces away under the 7

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Brian Howald

It must be tough to sit inside your climate-controlled vehicle that takes you where you want to go directly from where you are. How do you manage that suffering?

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Anonymous visitor

How many times were you groped and worse on the subway? How many times have you shelled out money for a cab rather than risk it again? Its been happening to me since I was eight years old, and my story is no different from many women who have lived in NYC for life. When you are as outraged about that as you are about people “squatting” their cars by the curb, I will be more inclined to forgive your righteous indignation and listen to you. As of now there is no reason to trust you, you lack a full perspective.

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Fix the 7 train? YES please!

Having just gotten home after another crappy commute on the 7, I have to say I am glad that SOMEONE is standing up for transit. The MTA has been shafting Queens and our neighborhoods for years with these “repairs” that don’t seem to fix a damn thing. Meanwhile, have any of you drivers been on the Skillman Avenue bridge in the morning?? It’s a nightmare because everyone is trying to cram over the “free” bridge that is actually “costing” Sunnyside & LIC by polluting our air and causing so much traffic. It only makes sense to stop the toll shopping and even things out. Wake up people … get the facts. Our transit system is an embarrassment. Fund it = fix it.

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Anonymous visitor

The city crammed thousands and thousands of new citizens into Queens before improving infrastructure, now they are pitting us against each other and making it look as if we are the evil ones. No, they planned it this way. The devious bastards. Meanwhile, Bloomberg is off to vacation in Bermuda and make himself mayor of London. What a pit of pestilence that man is.

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Sunnyslide

I’ve never noticed the Queensboro Bridge more congested than anywhere else to be honest, and I take the Triborough Bridge all the time.

It’s just a ruse for more money for NYC. The fact that it costs as much as it does for NEW YORKERS to cross boroughs in their own city is ridiculous in my opinion.

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O'Gradey

It’s not a ruse to make money, it’s a plan to make money to pay for improving transportation in this city we all live and commute in. So many entitled, out of touch car drivers here.

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Anonymous visitor

Why do you feel entitled to take money out of my pocket? Your irrational resentment of car owners seems to be common these days, but it is no less irrational. Why are you entitled to attack an huge segment of American society? What makes you think it is okay to be so hateful? You want to get on those trains? Be my guest. They make me sick. Accept it.

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Simon Phearson

It’s not irrational to “resent” drivers. Every time we want to expand mass transit or make it more efficient, they’re the ones who block the way. Every time we want to make our streets more hospitable for walking or biking, they’re the ones who block the way. Drivers pollute our streets with their foul-smelling exhaust; they park their huge, inefficient vehicles on public property like it’s their god-given right; they tear apart our streets and expect the general public to pay to maintain them; they kill and maim pedestrians and cyclists with near impunity, even when pedestrians keep to the sidewalks and cyclists follow the traffic laws; they complain about “scofflaw cyclists” and “jaywalking pedestrians” even while they break traffic laws left and right; and on and on. On top of this, they seem to think that, since they have to pay for their cars, gas, and insurance, their “contribution” to the roads they drive on has already been made – even all of those costs are purely for their own benefit. I resent drivers quite rationally, I think. When I commute, I do so in a way that is safe and pro-social. No driver can say the same thing.

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Chris

You take money out of my pocket as a driver every day. In the form of air pollution, congestion that delays goods and services, free parking on public property, and wear and tear on city roads that are funded by my income, sales, and property tax dollars. You leech off of the tax dollars transit riders pay every day on top of the fares they pay, and yet we’re the ones who are entitled?! Give me a break.

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Anonymous visitor

Poor Chris. The world is victimizing you. You should have been born on a much, much better planet than this one, where everyone sees the world through your eyes and makes you happy. Let’s put car drivers in prison so Chris doesn’t have to deal with them anymore. He thinks they are ruining his enjoyment of his life and that is not fair!

Chris

Hey anon, congrats on creating a textbook definition of a strawman argument. “Let’s make drivers pay their fair share of the societal costs of driving” is not “let’s put car drivers in prison.” You’re not only entitled, but also completely irrational. What a poor existence you must lead.

Anonymous visitor

Chris, if only we could make your mother pay the cost of the untold suffering your existence has smote mankind with, we would all be better off. You certainly can’t be blamed, the size of your ego makes self examination impossible.

Sunnyslide

It costs 3 times as much to cross boroughs in a car. I don’t disagree that its a luxury to have a car (I didn’t have one for 40 years) but the fact remains the subway is a MUCH better deal. $2.75 to go ANYWHERE in the city versus $9+ is a big difference.
.
If you think this money is going to “improvements” boy do I have a bridge to sell you 🙂

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Simon Phearson (@SimonPhearson)

Why is the idea of paying to cross boroughs so foreign to drivers? Transit riders do this even to get to places within boroughs. It’s not a difficult concept for us. Why are drivers so special?

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Chris

Not to mention drivers already do it between Queens and the Bronx and between Brooklyn and Staten Island!

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Peter B.

Wait, so you acknowledge that the Queens Borough Bridge is hugely congested – a bad thing right? And the Triborough, which has a toll, is a better way to travel – a good thing. Plus, with this plan, the toll you pay over the Triborough will come down, which benefits you. Yet, you conclude that this is just some sort of ruse and a bad idea? How does that make sense. And to be clear, it is not a “ruse” to make more money. It is an explicit effort to make more money, because NYC needs more money to pay for that same bridge’s maintenance and to keep the cost of traveling between boroughs for the many more people who use mass-transit from going up any more.

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Jacob

Ever wonder what all those people from Long Island are doing driving in Sunnyside? They aren’t shopping in our stores or making our neighborhood great. They are just shopping for the cheapest bridge to cross. If they speed on our roads, and make it hard to walk and shop in our neighborhood what do they care? They don’t live here. They should pay their fare share. Sunnyside and Long Island City are great places to visit – and not just pass through.

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Peter B.

What are you talking about? Most of us pay to travel to another borough every single day – its called a bus or subway fare? And why should you get off scott free when your use of a motor vehicle has real negative impacts on everyone around you. There is absolutely nothing unfair about this.

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Makes sense

The plan would scan license plates and not lead to congestion in Queens Plaza. That’s kinda the whole point, right? Queens plaza is a disaster. This will make it better.

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Anonymous visitor

I stop driving to Manhattan. It is too stressful to waste 1 hour just to get to the other side of the river.

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Anonymous visitor

A sudden $2,400 tax is not measly. Maybe you make lots more than I do. My work requires me to have a car and they pay my parking. But they have said they can not take on any tolls, their business margins are not that good. A lot of people are hanging by a thread.

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Simon Phearson

Yeah, and a lot of those people hanging by a thread are taking transit. If we don’t find good, sustainable sources of revenue for the MTA, they’ll face fare hikes. So there’s no winner here. We have to decide whether our transportation system should serve the large number of people who take transit to get to where they’re going or the relatively small number who absolutely need their cars and have to drive every day into the city. Anyway, I’m sure your employer would figure out a way, if everyone had to pay tolls.

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Brian Howald

When I cross Queens Plaza at 27th Street, the crosswalks are always filled with cars when I have the walk signal. I hardly call that better. Vehicles are often parked in the crosswalk on Queens Plaza North.

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Peter B.

I am frankly amazed at the opposition to this plan. For years we’ve heard all sorts of complaints about too many trucks coming through the neighborhood, pollution, congestion, dangerous traffic, particularly down by LaGuardia — all very real problems that negatively impact our quality of life. But when a solution comes along, everyone behaves as if its some sort of money grab. The toll that is being proposed is little more than the cost of a round-trip subway fare for 1 person, and at the rate things are going will end up being less than a subway fare soon. Put a second person in the car and you are way ahead of the game. So how is that onerous or burdensome? If I have to pay to get to work, or the mall or Chinatown, on the subway, why shouldn’t someone in a car pay too? Not only is that fair, but the other toll changes at other crossings will pull those giant trucks out of the neighborhood and make for a much safer, less hectic, less congested area near the bridge, all while providing very much needed money to both fix the bridges and keep the subway functioning. As a policy, there is no downside to this.

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Winky

Wrong. You are on a train, using tracks, in a hole in the ground with beautiful tiled stations, security, heating, electricity etc. that everyone in this city pays for from our tax dollars. You get on the train and you read. Drivers bought the vehicle, pay to keep it legal, pay to keep it running, pay to park it in many places, we support an entire automotive industry that was one of the greatest engines of prosperity the world has ever known. Now, could improvements be made, of course. The car is only a little over 150 years old. Put engineers to work making them lighter, safer, cleaner, smaller and prettier. That is where we should be headed. You, go sit on the train and read but remember to take your trash with you.

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Simon Phearson (@SimonPhearson)

I’m always amused by how drivers seem to think they deserve “credit” for paying for these massively inefficient private vehicles they insist on driving all over our roads and parking in the middle of our public spaces. No, you get credit for the taxes you pay, maybe, but those aren’t enough to cover the costs imposed on the city by driving.

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Anonymous visitor

Glad we give you something to laugh about, Simon. You should study the economic history of America and see how much the car has to do with not only our prosperity but the prosperity of the planet before you get up on that white charger with your Flaming Sword of Justice

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Brian Howald

Shall I thank you for all the people killed by drivers in New York City? Was that your self-sacrifice, too? How about all the kids with asthma in the South Bronx? I bet they are all so taken aback by your generosity.

If driving a car is too much of a selfless act for you to stomach, you could always walk, bike, or ride transit like the rest of us selfish slobs.

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Small Business Person in Sunnyside

I like that he signs a bill protecting small business one day and then supports this the next! Tolls on the bridge will put me out of business.

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Saul

How or why would this put anyone out of business? Is your business a courier service back and forth over the bridge by car?

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Small Business Person in Sunnyside

I can drive back and forth between Sunnyside and Manhattan multiple times a day making deliveries or picking up items, particularly on the Upper East Side. Having space to make deliveries in the city is particularly hard. I get hundreds dollars of parking tickets of parking tickets just delivering to clients at their place of business. Last year, I tried using a courier rather than a car to make deliveries, but it was too expensive. That may not be a big deal for UPS, but it is a major expense for me. Look around your neighborhood, a lot of middle class people in Queens are contractors, etc. This will kill us.

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Simon Phearson (@SimonPhearson)

The plan anticipates this. Read up – commercial vehicles would be charged for only a single round-trip toll per 24 hours. Don’t oppose a plan that would help a vast number of New Yorkers – transit riders and drivers both – when you don’t even know what you’re opposing!

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Small Business Person in Sunnyside

I am not driving a commercial vehicle. My main complaint to Sunnyside is becoming is becoming affordable for someone who has lived here for someone who has lived here for most of their life. My housing costs have gone up at least 33% in the past four years. Another big consumption tax to fill a whole in the wasteful MTA budget does not help anything.

Rob

The parking ticket problem you’re having in Manhattan is not related to tolls, but to motorists squatting in free or too-cheap on-street parking. Although not part of MOVE-NY, there needs to be significant parking reform. Contractors and delivery trucks need lots more loading zones than exist now. And on-street parking needs to be priced to have at least a space or two open on every block all the time. San Francisco’s SFPark system is the country’s leader in this.

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Peter B.

Commercial vehicles pay only 1 roundtrip per day. So even with all those trips you are capped at about $11. Hardly something that will ruin you. And it will be a deductible business expense, so the hit is more like $8/day.

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He is at it again

This guy is so totally in the pocket of the Real Estate Board of New York. How can they charge so much for the condos that they are building at QBP is there is traffic in front of them all of the time? Who does this guy represent?

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OldenDays

i hope they make it mandatory EZPass, or use the license-plate scanner things, otherwise there’s going to be constant congestion from people waiting to go through the toll plaza.

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Peter B.

That is in fact what the proposal is. They already do this on the Henry Hudson Parkway on the bridge in to Upper Manhattan. Its old technology at this point and can easily be implemented.

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Steve

Totally makes sense. I waste so much time, gas, and money sitting in traffic! I’d easily pay a toll for a faster drive.

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Wait a Second

Please, no. I’ll have to look for a new job outside Manhattan. Don’t make me do that.

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Simon Phearson (@SimonPhearson)

How in the world can you afford to drive and park in this city, while working in Manhattan, but be unable to afford a toll for the privilege of driving over the bridges? Why are millions of people able to pay the MTA to get to work, but you’re not able to pay a measly toll?

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Simon Phearson

You’re the one drawing on your personal experience to advocate against a smart policy that could help millions of people. Why should anyone believe that you’ll have to look for a new job outside of Manhattan, if you have to pay a toll to go over a currently-free bridge?

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Anonymous visitor

Majority people who work in Manhattan don’t drive there because it is impossible to find parking for 9 hours you have to work.

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anon

If this toll violates the terms of the bonds that were used to build the East river bridges it is illegal.

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Wait a Second

Riders don’t pay the full price of the cost of their usage. What is the full price of the cost of a driver’s usage? I make a lot of sacrifices to own a car, which I use for business and personal needs. Tell me how much subway riders are subsidizing my ride. I’ll pay the same to subsidize theirs.

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Peter B.

Most road construction, maintenance and repair is paid from the general fund. We pay the same taxes as you do. Not only that, but if you are a regular car driver, it absolutely is in your interest to keep the subways running well, otherwise, the already congested roads you travel on will be absolutely swamped if people have to shift to more cars. And that is before we get to all the issues with operating a car in a dense city. And please, you don’t make any sacrifices to own a car, you choose to own a car and there are legitimate and reasonable costs associated with that personal choice. If those costs are too much, then get rid of the car and save yourself from having to make any sacrifices.

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Ramrod Jones

You are completely ignorant of the details of any individual’s life. Therefore your statement is unsupported by fact. When I bought my car I paid tax. When I buy gas I pay tax. When I register and inspect the car I pay tax. When I pay to have my car maintained I pay tax. All that goes into the general fund. We live in a time of great freedom of movement. Before the advent of the car people remained ignorant of anything in the world that they couldn’t walk to. The car certainly needs to improve and change so it is not a pollution generator, is not a space hogger, is not a danger to other human beings. Those are all engineering challenges we must meet. But to return to the days of being limited by public transit is anathema to freedom of movement. Just because some people like those limitations doesn’t mean we all must.

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Simon Phearson (@SimonPhearson)

Yeah, and for all that, drivers *still* don’t pay most of the costs of road construction and maintenance. Most of that money comes from other taxes (sales, property, income) that everyone bears.

Mass transit is subsidized. Roads are subsidized. So the question isn’t who pays for whom, but how best to structure our transportation system so that it moves the most people where they want to go, as efficiently as possible. Newsflash! It’s not by putting them all in cars.

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Anonymous visitor

Cars have not yet reached any point of perfection. Blame Dick Cheney and the Texas Boys for preventing them from changing to something pollution free. How much do bikers pay for all the re-engineering our cities across the globe are going through to accommodate them? How much do they pay to register their vehicles and keep them in good working order? How much do they reimburse society for the cost of riding at high speeds without safety equipment? Are the leaders in the bike industry working to develop Defensive Riding courses, basic road literacy courses and obedience courses. Idaho stop, don’t make me laugh!. Take off the
Crown of Superiority you have bestowed upon yourselves. It doesn’t fit!

Brian Howald

Anonymous visitor, I must have missed all the deaths being caused by cyclists. When I ride my bike at ~15 mph, I don’t pollute the air, I don’t create a substantial risk of killing another road user, nor have I required large swaths of cities to be demolished for the past 70 years to make sure I can ride fast and unimpeded. The only costs I impose are the space I occupy when cycling, a fraction of the space occupied by a car.

????

Who are you? I just googled your name out of curiosity. You only seem to exist on comments pages dealing with bikes and transportation in New York. Do you work for Transportation Alternatives or Vision Zero or another advocacy group? Not for or against- just curious.

Brilliantina Comica

You know what? We should really eliminate roads. Let’s just make everyone walk. That’s the fairest way to go about this. Rip up all the asphalt and sell the buried cobblestones beneath them. That would raise enough money to turn every road into the greenswards we all really need. That would build community, take care of the storm runoff, help with the dearth of fresh foods and clean the air to a pristine crystalline state. We can widen the sidewalks everywhere so there can be lanes for superfast, fast and slow walkers. All the unemployed DOT workers can become farmers and pedestrian traffic cops instead. It’s perfect!

Andrew

Move NY is not about getting everyone to give up their cars. Cars are remarkably good tools for *certain* tasks. They are NOT, however, a good tool for getting around a dense, urban environment that is extremely well-served by public transportation. Move NY simply seeks to disincentivize people from using the a good tool for the wrong task.

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Bronx Resident

Being stuck in traffic and restricted to roads while having to pay extraordinary taxes and other costs is not freedom of movement.

Low cost and efficient public transportation is much more equitable and a more accurate representation of “freedom.”

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Peter B.

I am completely ignorant? And what do you know of my life? I have a car, I pay to garage it. Check your assumptions. Bottom line, claiming its a “sacrifice” to own a car is absurd, its a choice. And making policy needs to focus on what does the most good for the greatest number of people, not simply support your personal choices. Of course some people will be negatively impacted. Tens of thousands of people are being negatively impacted right now by the current policy that encourages giant trucks to maneuver through narrow local streets to clog free bridges when they should be on highways. People are currently negatively impacted by people who really could be using mass transit but instead choose to drag their exhaust spewing, space consuming inefficient cars in to the middle of the country’s densest City merely so they can enjoy their little luxuries: radio, A/C, their coffee. Hey I like all that stuff to. My little secret [don’t tell my biking buddies] is I actually like to drive. But my personal preference does not outweigh the harm the current policy causes. Neither you, nor any one else I have heard in opposition to this have advanced a reasonable policy rational for keeping the current system. All I am hearing is “but what about me, me, me.” Not invalid by itself, but certainly not something that outweighs the benefits.

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A Reader

You can hardly blame someone for fighting for their continued existence, can you? And I don’t see where anyone said it is a sacrifice to drive a car, only that they sacrificed a lot to get a car. I believe a woman said she had been repeatedly manhandled using the subway and gave up other things in her life in order to afford a car so she could get to work unmolested. So, while the policy may benefit many people, we in society often pay a great deal to ensure services are there in case we need them. Please God you never need an ambulance to speed you to the hospital before you die, but we maintain roads so that if you do need it, it is available free of charge. Thank God you can afford both a car and a bike and have the good health to use the bike. I read yesterday that buying a bicycle is too expensive for many people in the city and storage is impossible. What if you were disabled? Had asthma and couldn’t walk up steps, or a weak heart and couldn’t stand the whole way, or you were elderly and in pain during the entire trip? What if you were a woman who had been raped on the subway? All those people use cars to continue contributing to society rather than go out on disability or lose their homes through unemployment. While a car is a convenience and luxury to people with other options, it is a necessity to people without them. What provision do you make for these people? A society that serves the greater good but burdens its weakest members is harshly judged by humanitarians and by history itself. It takes an awfully hard heart to make life harder on weaker people.

Respond to Brian H.

You really have to talk to Eisenhower, Henry Ford, Robert Moses and folks like that for the state your city’s roads are in. Sorry people who lived before you were born found it easier to get where they wanted to go by adopting the automobile before it was perfected into a small, economical, zero-pollution- emitting personal and family travel device. They did it before even I was born! If only our European ancestors hadn’t slaughtered the native populations there were still be footpaths everywhere, which are perfect for off-road bikes. That would please you, I guess.

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Bridget Riley

I respectfully disagree. I drive to work by necessity. While there backups going over the bridge well-placed traffic agents smooth this out considerably. With rare exceptions it takes no more than 20 minutes to get from Skillman and Queens Blvd to the bridge and another 5 minutes to get over. Sometimes it is much shorter. While it may be fair to ask people from around the region to pay a toll, traffic of local origin should be exempt. Increase the gas tax, which would fairly tax people who drive more in the city. Taxing individuals who live in city limits and must use a car for work is an unnecessary burden on working people.

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Peter B.

We all have to pay to travel in this City. I have heard this argument before, that it is somehow wrong to charge people to move about the city. But anyone who uses public transportation has to pay. So how is wrong to charge a car driver and roughly equivalent fee to use a specific piece of infrastructure? I pay to use a train, you pay to use a bridge? Honestly, how is it any different? If you didn’t have to use a car for work then presumably you would be riding the subway and paying about the same to go to and from work. Actually using a car, you only pay once, on the ride in to the City, whereas I pay every time I take a ride on the train. Some days I might take 3-5 trips for work, and I have to pay each time. So, sorry, but I do not understand how this is an argument against a toll.

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Ramrod Jones

You are incorrect. It will cost over $10.00 a day, paying in both directions.

You can get to work for free if you decide to use your own locomotion. Walk, ride a bike, drive your own private car. This is a city of islands. It is fundamentally unfair to call it one city then separate populations by charging them a fee to go from one island to another. You choose to use the train. You could avoid the cost entirely by traveling on the public roads. Will we have to pay to use sidewalks next?

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Simon Phearson (@SimonPhearson)

All that this comment is saying is: we should preserve the status quo, just because. Celebrate freeloading!

The main difference between driving and other modes of “free” transportation that you cite is that driving imposes costs on everyone else that biking and walking does not. Driving pollutes the air, it creates massive noise pollution, it wears down our streets, and it puts cyclists and pedestrians at risk of being hit even when they’re obeying the traffic laws. As things currently stand, drivers don’t pay anything to compensate others for all of these costs. They should.

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Anonymous visitor

Insulting people is not a great way to reach a compromise. Sorry the world doesn’t fit your narrative. Idealists are in a category unto themselves.

This discussion is moving forward among open minded, level-headed realists in many other places. That is where this issue will grow and develop rational plans.

Brian Howald

Well said, but don’t tell card drivers. They’re still convinced that despite these unfair privileges and costs they impose, they’re the real victims on the streets of New York.

Anonymous visitor

Really? Because I seem to remember paying: licence fees, sales tax gas tax registration fees parking fees inspection fees and tolls to cross bridges that were supposed to be free after they paid for their construction through tolls. The reason your bus and train fares are so cheap is they are paid for by people who drive cars. so please stop crying about how much it costs to take public transportation.. You would be better served complaining about how bad public transport is.

Peter B.

Ok I stand corrected on that, so even at $10, car pool. 2 or 3 people in the car and you are again ahead of the game. And if you travel a lot for work in the City, you would still be saving money over a taxi or a train so my point stands. If utilizing a car in the Country’s densest City is too expensive then don’t use it. Asking the neighborhoods on either side of the bridges to keep putting up with dangerous truck traffic and other vehicle congestion that is destroying these bridges, without providing revenue to support maintenance, while forcing other commuters to pay higher tolls at the crossing they need to use is absurd and bad policy (it is also just blatant selfishness). This is a much more rational approach.

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Gennaro Massaro

I agree with Ramrod. All of these bridges have been paid for long ago. The administration of the city and state haven’t found a tax they don’t love. This is just another way to have the motorists pay for everyone else. Motorists already provide the city with income when the purchase their cars, buy gas, pay for repairs and register their vehicles and have them inspected.
When will this end. When they can’t find any other way to pry money from you pocket.

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Pete

It isn’t roughly the same. Drivers would be paying over twice as much on the toll plus the cost of gas under this proposal.

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Simon Phearson (@SimonPhearson)

Drivers’ gas costs have no more relevance to this discussion than the cost of the breakfast I had this morning before biking to work.

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Anonymous visitor

Who the hell do you think you are, you smug human stain? People like you start wars when what we need are people who can help us all reach consensus. Stop damaging the discussion.

Bronx Resident

20 minutes to get from Skillman to the bridge is very slow.

Balancing the tolls would remove much of the congestion from the Queensboro bridge as drivers will stay on the LIE for the Midtown Tunnel or take the Tri-boro from points North.

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Sunnyside Local

Stupid idea. All this plan is going to produce is massive traffic congestion on Queens Boulevard and the Eastside of Manhattan as cars wait to pay the toll. The congestion pricing plan was much more feasible and would eliminate a large number of vehicles in Manhattan during the working day.

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Bob

All proposed tolls will be collected “at speed” via EZ-Pass or through capturing the car’s license plate a la the Henry Hudson Bridge and sending a bill a la the Henry Hudson Bridge so there will be no delays whatsoever caused by the tolls themselves.

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Bronx Resident

If the tolls are balanced, those crossings with greater capacity will experience more usage (see Midtown Tunnel). There will be less incentive for utilizing the Queensboro Bridge.

Additionally, all tolls with use overhead electronic payment.

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Joe

It will make Queens Blvd a whole lot better since nobody will use the bridge except people who live fairly close to it. Right now, people exit the LIE and drive across LIC and Sunnyside to avoid the Midtown Tunnel toll. If they both have tolls, all that LIE traffic stays on the LIE into the tunnel.

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