Friday, February 7, 2014

The Cuomo Toll Cut For Staten Island

Brooklyn Councilman Decries 'Tale of Two Boroughs' in Bridge Tolling Plan
Frankly, the Staten Island situation is unfair.  Every bridge onto the island, which is poorly served by transit, is tolled. And those tolls have gotten pretty expensive in recent years. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Bridge is still a freebie. 

Our current tolling system doesn't make sense. But Cuomo's proposal to take from the MTA to finance a discount for Staten Island is not the visionary approach we need.  And merely extending that discount to Brooklyn residents (myself included) doesn't make it much better.  Look to the San Schwartz plan now being advanced by Move-NY.  Spread the burden more fairly, look at the issue holistically, and dedicate the funds to transportation projects. 
Under the new pricing scheme announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday, Staten Island residents will pay slightly less when using E-ZPasses and depending on how often they use the cross-borough bridge. Truck drivers from any borough who cross the bridge more than 10 times a month will see their tolls slashed 20 percent. Non-Staten Island residents crossing the bridge won't see any reductions in the toll, which will remain $15 without an E-ZPass and $10.66 with one. (Staten Islanders have long received a discount on the bridge toll).  The toll discounts come not long after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hiked tolls and fares across the state. Some fiscal watchdogs are questioning whether the MTA, already grappling with a delicate fiscal situation, can afford even this small discount.  A source close to Mr. Gentile emphasized the councilman doesn't have any anti-Staten Island bias--he once represented a portion of the borough in the State Senate--but is hoping the council's Brooklyn delegation will unite around the issue of lowering tolls for Brooklyn residents.
As I've said before, I think the Schwartz plan has legs.  And I expect it to be a frequent topic of discussion over the next year.

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