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?
This is the WORST idea ever. I have driven, walked and biked over the Queenboro bridge and tolling will NOT decrease congestion by any stretch of the imagination. The MTA is greedy and it is foolish for any elected official to support this plan. I know I will NOT be voting for Jimmy again next term if he supports this plan. I’d really like to know how it is that an interested “group” gets to introduce a bill into the state sentate!!!
All tolls are bullshit. Next you will pay to use the sidewalk. A city is a concentration of human energy which naturally self-sustains. Until you elect politicians.
I agree JM. It definitely won’t deter them! And Van No Brainer is an idiot!
Tolls do not deter drivers from driving. This will just lead to increased congestion in and around Queens Plaza. It is disgusting how government always finds an excuse to squeeze just a little bit more out of its taxpayers to fund their “solutions” to existing problems. Van Bramer is only interested in getting his name in the papers, has no real interest in the neighborhood or what truly matters to the community. A politician doing what they do best!
There are many people from Queens or Brooklyn who commute to Manhattan who have no mass transit where they live. They have no other option than to drive. They also probably earn a lot less money than those who live closer to Manhattan. A better option would be a congestion charge in areas like lower Manhattan and midtown so that not just poor schnucks get stuck paying tolls. Or provide better transit links so that they don’t have to clog East River crossings in their cars.
What they should do now is add cameras and a don’t block the box policy to the intersection of Queens Plaza and Northern/Jackson. Huge trucks and cars block the intersection constantly, forcing the jackson traffic to swerve into oncoming traffic coming from the opposite side. It’s a nightmare, and a true disaster waiting to happen. Why this hasn’t been down yet is beyond me.
even the bus drivers are constantly braking the law and interfering with the flow of traffic
they have this at the bridge approach that crosses Skillman Avenue. IT IS NEVER ENFORCED. EVER.
I’m strongly against this toll on this bridge and surprised Mr.Van Bramer backs this. This will discourage travel between Manhattan and Queens because of its price.
Pretty sure that’s the point. People come from all over to cross it because it’s free. If it’s tolled, it should (theoretically) result in fewer drivers going out of their way to pass over the bridge — since it won’t be free anymore. Instead, people will (hopefully) spread themselves out more evenly between the Midtown Tunnel, Queensboro Bridge, and Triboro Bridge.
yet, it is all just a theory.
As someone who works around the Queensboro bridge, I am at a loss on how this will work logistically. Rush hour on both sides of the bridge is already terribly congested. How are they going to add toll booths and space for the lines. This plan will result in even worse congestion and more pollution from idling cars.
I think the idea is that the toll will mitigate the amount of vehicles that come passing through it. The congestion is so bad at Queensboro Bridge precisely because it’s a toll-free bridge. Drivers go out of their way to get to it because it’s cheaper than going through the midtown tunnel.
I agree with Van Bramer on most things but this one surprised me.
What was he thinking?
I think he should reverse policy. He is burning bridges with voters.
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.
So place a toll on the trucks. I have to cross the bridge to get my wife to a hospital. I don’t have a disability plate, and I am retired, on Social Security. Why should I have to pay to cross the QB [Ed Koch] Brisge. Just not fair.
The plan would scan license plates and not lead to congestion in Queens Plaza or elsewhere. That’s kinda the whole point right?
Go JVB! Leading the ship while the Gov and Bdb watch the overloaded 7 pass by. JVB for Mayor!
A toll doesn’t REMOVE the bridge. People can still get to and from Manhattan. Would this keep it convenient for those who DO drive? No. But this isn’t about pleasing everyone. It’s about compromise.
Unless you live in the area (and I’d imagine the people driving across the bridge do not), you can’t fully grasp how horrendously congested Queens Plaza is for hours and hours every day. People who live and work in Long Island City have to add additional travel time if they know they need to drive through Queens Plaza. It can take 10 minutes or more just to get through the intersection; and that’s with traffic cops helping the flow of vehicles.
Instead of relying on a bridge, we should be considering alternatives to wasting gas and time crossing it. Consider an increased number of Park & Rides in our communities. And while it’s hard to be on the MTA’s side, if this helps them to maintain and improve the overall transit system, then hopefully it will yield additional travel options for those who need it.
Have you ever seen an added toll or increase in fares consistent with the MTA improving the transit system and helping to maintain it?
please don’t kid yourself
One can dream.