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Manhattan, NY - MTA's Toll Hike Will Hit Hard City Residents from Outer Boroughs

Published on: August 13, 2010 09:40 AM
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Manhattan, NY - Here we go again: The MTA is raising tolls for all the wrong people. Drivers from communities outside Manhattan like Bayside, Queens; Throgs Neck, the Bronx; Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and Stapleton, S.I., will be asked to shell out another dollar to pay for a transit system they do not use and that doesn’t serve them very well.

For example, tolls will jump appreciably at the Throgs Neck Bridge - which connects Queens to the Bronx. Ever try to get from Little Neck, Queens, to Throgs Neck by bus? With the $223 million collected in tolls on the Throgs Neck Bridge each year and the bulk of that revenue going to mass transit, one would think we would have efficient Disney World-style monorails whisking people back and forth every few minutes. But, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority website, that trip by mass transit would require four buses, more than an hour of travel and a fare of $4.50.

On the other hand, drivers in Brooklyn Heights heading to Manhattan during the peak of rush hour pay nothing to cross the Manhattan or Brooklyn bridges, despite an alphabet soup of nearby subway lines including the A, B, C, D, F, M, N, Q, R, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

However, it’s not all good news for Brooklyn Heights residents, either. Already suffering through unbearable traffic, their wounds will be salted when the new toll sends thousands more drivers to clog Clinton, Henry, Adams and Tillary Sts. as they struggle to reach the approaches to the (free) bridges.


Another way to look at it is that the four free East River bridges into Manhattan generate $0 in revenue, although there are roughly 20 subway lines parallel to them. The six MTA bridges that serve transit-poor areas (the Verrazano, Whitestone, Throgs Neck, RFK, Marine Parkway and Cross Bay) generate more than $1 billion a year and are served by one lonely subway line, the A train’s Rockaway spur, which runs parallel to the Cross Bay Bridge.

What does this tell us? That we have tolls in all the wrong places. Yes, historically one set of bridges was built by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (now renamed MTA Bridges and Tunnels) with tolls and the others, which are older, by the city itself. But those East River bridges, now free, were all built with tolls. The tolls were removed by Mayor William Gaynor in the early 1900s. “I see no more reason for tollgates on the bridges than for tollgates on Fifth Ave. or Broadway,” he ominously said.

The easiest thing to do would be to remove toll plazas from MTA facilities and replace them with ones on the East River bridges. More than 500,000 vehicles use the four free East River bridges daily, and about 570,000 use the six tolled MTA bridges, so a slightly higher toll would be needed at the East River bridges than is now charged at MTA facilities to generate the same amount of revenue. Drivers would still shell out $1 billion in tolls, only instead of paying when going among the outer boroughs, they’d be charged when going to Manhattan’s central business district. Yes, a bevy of lawyers would have to sort out bondholder agreements along with state, city and federal laws. Environmental impact statements may have to be prepared and engineering plans drawn up. So what? That’s what they’re paid to do. We removed the tolls once in 1911 from the East River bridges. Let’s put them back in 2011!

Who wins and who loses if the above dream is realized? The transit-poor communities of Bay Ridge; Stapleton; Whitestone, Queens; Throgs Neck, and others win for sure. But at the same time, Brooklyn Heights; Williamsburg and Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and Long Island City, Queens, don’t come out as losers - not by a long shot. That’s because fewer drivers will be streaming toward the free East River bridges in order to avoid the heavy tolls at the Battery and Midtown tunnels and the RFK Bridge. Drivers who continue to use the East River bridges will pay more out of pocket but will get to their destination faster. Drivers on the currently tolled crossings to Manhattan  will face more congestion as motorists no longer avoid them to shop for a free bridge.

If we don’t change the vicious cycle of stupidity, expect $20 round-trip tolls at the Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Verrazano and RFK bridges by the end of this decade. As Forrest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »


 Aug 13, 2010 at 09:49 AM Anonymous Says:

The MTA is a mismanaged agency. They did away with the Flatbush to Manhattan X-29 Express Bus used almost exclusively by Yidden and added the fleet to the X-27 and X-28 Express Bus lines that are Judenrein.


 Aug 13, 2010 at 09:57 AM Bezalel Says:

The solution proposed by the writer sounds great! Let's implement it. The current system is insane.


 Aug 13, 2010 at 10:29 AM kollelfaker Says:

the tolls were instituted to pay off the bonds and loans required to build the bridges and were never invisioned as a revenue stream for the city. its time to : 1. get rid of the tolls on all bridges that hnavec been paid off several times over and recieve federal funds for repairs ,.2. get rid of the theives running these adgencies that allow costs to sky rocket out of control
mta now has a web site were you can check on there projects most are running 300-500 % above cost get rid of the scum costs will come down and subway riders will have cheaper fears brake the unions get pensions under control and have employees contribute to thier pensions as every one else does
hey bloomberg stop kiss the mosques behind remember who put you in office


 Aug 13, 2010 at 01:01 PM Renegade Says:

Does the writer really believe that if they put tolls on the east river bridges they'll actually take away the tolls from the other bridges?
Not a chance in hell.


 Aug 13, 2010 at 03:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Complaining.... Ever think about getting off your royal posterior and walk somewhere for a change? Keep your car home and either walk or go by bike. No wonder we have so many people with lap-bands.


 Aug 13, 2010 at 09:10 PM Crusty Says:

Bloomberg wanted to institute tolls on the East River bridges as part of PlaNYC. People in ill-served areas were wildly opposed. They've got what they wanted.


 Aug 15, 2010 at 02:12 PM Anonymous Says:

To the author: if nyc wants to get money out of Brooklynites all it has to do is tax them. You don't even have to wait for them to use a tunnel. The other tolls are to get money from outside the boros int nyc. Your plan is great but nyc does what's good for nyc not what's good for westchester or nassau.


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