Drivers & Politicians Prepare For Bridge Toll Fight

A little over a week ago I wrote about how motorists in Broad Channel & the Rockaways were planning civil disobedience if the MTA went through with plans to eliminate their Cross Bay Bridge toll rebate. Motorists from the respective areas pay $1.03 with resident E-Z Pass tags when crossing the bridge. They receive their money back in the form of a rebate. Yestderday’s print edition of the New York Daily News has more on plans to stage two large protests as well as packing the MTA’s Bridge & Tunnel meeting tomorrow. Brendan Brosh has more:

Rockaway and Broad Channel motorists are planning two large-scale protests this week to dissuade the MTA from abolishing toll rebates for the Cross Bay Bridge.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and other local leaders plan to demonstrate Monday near the toll plaza, and six busloads of residents are slated to pack Wednesday’s MTA meeting in Manhattan.

The MTA is facing a budget crisis and hopes to save $3.6 million a year by rescinding the rebate.

“We fought this battle once already, and thought it was over,” said Frank Harnisher, 70, a Broad Channel resident who was a vocal leader against the tolls in the 1990s. “People will only be bitter if they have to pay that toll again.”

Rockaway peninsula and Broad Channel drivers with E-ZPasses are charged $1.03 every time they cross the bridge, and the fee is remitted back to them in a rebate.

The program was instituted in 1998 after decades of protests.

Click here for the complete report.

The idea of them eliminating this rebate seems ridiculous. Yes, I understand that the MTA has financial issues but is $3.6 million really going to make a dent in their deficit? The answer is obviously no. The residents in these areas use the bridge to connect to the main part of Queens & driving is the best means of transportation considering the subpar bus & subway service available. Why screw them some more by taking away the rebate program? I am 100% sure they can find ways to make up this amount by eliminating the monumental amount of waste within.

xoxo Transit Blogger

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.


Unfortunately for the continuity of your argument one of the areas of “monumental waste” you reference is service to the Rockaways. These sorts of peripheral services are exactly what causes MTA deficits. By forcing the MTA to look within for savings the A train to the Rocks is going to be one of the first to go. The charge is absolutely de minimus and the crying of people who drop $8,000 a year on owning an operating a vehicle falls under the “methinks they doth protesteth too much” rule. And, if they support the Ravitch commission it will probably go away anyway.

No one ever talks about this obvious alternative to congestion pricing: raise public parking (street meters) rates. Raise them a lot. I’ve no idea how much money is generated from parking meters in general, but it seems pretty obvious you could deter driving, and car ownership, in congested neighborhoods simply by making it more expensive to store cars on public property. It’s shocking to me that the vast majority of cross-streets in Manhattan (!) literally charge NOTHING to park. Crazy! And there are plenty of busy avenues that charge NOTHING on Sundays, some even charge nothing on Saturdays. You can park, without having to move your car once, from Friday night until Monday morning along Sixth Avenue from 14th St. to 23rd St.- FOR FREE. Yep – in front of Bed Bath and Beyond. I did the math – if they charged $4 per hour only during shopping hours on Saturday and Sunday, that stretch of avenue alone would generate over $600,000 per year. Glance at any of those new parking muni-meters and you’ll see – parking is only $2 per hour during business hours – a ridiculous bargain. And here’s a question I’ve never read a reasonable answer for in the 23 years since I moved here from car-culture USA: Why is it FREE to park a car overnight anywhere in this city, no matter how densely populated? Maintaining this public property for car owners is a public service that costs real money – it should be charged for, and the charge should be exactly reflective of what it costs to maintain those streets – the cleaning, the periodic re-paving, the policing. And then parking meters during the day should charge rates high enough to provide a big chunk of money for transit operations, simultaneously reducing congestion by deterring discretionary car use.

Leave a comment