The Ravitch Commission recommendations came out a few months ago & ever since then, the talk has been about what will or will not get approved in Albany. The proposal that has received the most press is the tolling of the East River Bridges. Throughout history if you even hinted at the thought of doing that, you were met with stiff opposition ready to destroy you. So it is quite the site to see any sort of serious consideration towards a plan to add them. Glenn Blain & Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News have more in this report:
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Wednesday night proposed putting tolls on the East River bridges equal to the price of a subway ride, currently $2.
Silver pitched the proposal to his Assembly colleagues gathered to discuss the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s fiscal crisis.
A bailout plan drafted by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch recommends East River tolls matching those at MTA crossings like the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Drivers with E-ZPass pay $4.15 to cross that span.
Proponents dispute that argument, saying any successful bailout would include higher contributions from many others, like bus and subway riders in the form of modest fare hikes.
Faced with a $1.2 billion operating budget deficit and no money for its next capital construction program, the MTA in December adopted a “draconian” budget.
It includes hikes raising fare and toll revenues by 23% – potentially resulting in a $103 price tag for a monthly MetroCard now costing $81.
Click here for the complete report.
Now lets take a look at the report filed by Jeremy W. Peters & William Neuman of the New York Times:
With time running out for the State Legislature to act on a plan to bail out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, proposed a compromise on Wednesday that endorses putting tolls on the bridges over the East River and the Harlem River.
Any plan that Mr. Silver puts forward carries considerable weight with Democrats in Albany, who control both the Assembly and the Senate.
But by proposing new tolls — albeit more modest ones than what a state commission proposed in December — Mr. Silver has put himself at odds with many legislators in Albany, particularly those from boroughs outside Manhattan and the suburbs who represent people who drive into the city regularly.
Mr. Silver also called for adopting the tax on business payrolls that was proposed by Richard Ravitch, the former transportation authority chairman who led a state commission to address the authority’s budget crisis.
Because Mr. Silver’s plan would raise less revenue than the plan Mr. Ravitch proposed, the possibility of service cuts or delayed capital projects still looms.
Legislators said on Wednesday night that they were running out of options. “No one wants to have to do any of this,” said Micah Z. Kellner, a Democratic assemblyman who represents the Upper East Side.
“But we’re going to have to pay for the M.T.A. one way or the other.”
Click here for the complete report.
I will say this, I do not support Sheldon’s plan as it does more harm than good in my opinion. I am a big believer of either coming up with a full solution to a problem or nothing at all. His plan is clearly one that falls in the middle & would do more harm than good. What is the point of implementing a lower toll if it will still lead to substantial fare hikes & service cuts due to lower revenue? The answer is clear, there would be no point at all. This is not the time to play around. Millions of people depend on the system daily & the time to get something done the right way is now. So step up or get out!
xoxo Transit Blogger