Last year when talks first began about potentially damaging fare hikes & service cuts, one particular aspect did not get much press. The aspect I am referring to is the hotly contest battle over the Cross Bay Bridge toll rebate program. I covered the issue on numerous occasions including when drivers promised civil disobedience.
During the recent stretch, the elimination of the rebate program seemed set in stone until Albany supposedly “rescued” the MTA. In doing this, the MTA decided to keep the program going. However this is not good enough as Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer plans to continue her fight to abolish the toll completely. Brendan Brosh of the New York Daily News has more in this report:
Rockaway and Broad Channel motorists are renewing their fight to abolish the Cross Bay Bridge toll – only a few days after the MTA saved the community’s toll-rebate program.
“We believe the bridge [toll] is really illegal, unwarranted and unnecessary,” Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer said at a rally Friday at the bridge. “The fight’s not over.”
The largest hurdle to removing the toll is bonds linked to bridge revenue, Pheffer said.
The rebate program charges E-ZPass drivers from Rockaway and Broad Channel $1.03 to cross the bridge – and then immediately remits it to their account. Drivers without E-ZPasses must pay.
The program was in danger of being cut during the recent Metropolitan Transit Authority budget crisis, but was spared during last-minute negotiations between the state and the MTA this month, officials said.
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said Pheffer’s diligence saved the toll rebate program when she uncharacteristically threatened him and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
“She was steaming,” Smith recalled. “She just barreled through everybody and said, ‘We are not going home until that rebate program is back.'”
Toll revenues brought in $12.2million in 2008, says MTA spokeswoman Judie Glave.
“The Cross Bay resident toll rebate program will continue to be funded through money set aside in a special MTA fund,” Glave said, adding that the MTA spent $3.6 million on the program in 2008.
Click here for the complete report.
I have stated in the past that I do not support this toll rebate program. I feel that their is no need for a rebate program because their should be no tolls on this bridge. I find it ridiculous that drivers should have to pay to access other parts of their borough. Where else do you know of where drivers from one borough have to pay to reach the same borough? The thought of that alone is preposterous especially considering driving is by far the best transportation option available in these specific neighborhoods.
xoxo Transit Blogger