NY State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith voiced his support for $2 tolls on East River and Harlem River bridges, a proposal from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. However Smith did add, "If reducing the proposed East River Bridges toll results in higher fare increases, fewer service add-ons and layoffs, then it may not achieve the intended goals any toll would have to meet for it to be a prudent option."

The plan would generate revenue for the debt-ridden MTA, which has been threatening a 23% fare hike and service cuts. A proposal from the Ravitch Commission suggested putting a $5 toll on the now free bridges ($5 is what the state bridges charge) to help the MTA's coffers. Silver offered up the $2 middle ground toll, noting that it's the same fare as the (current) subway and bus ride.

Some officials slammed Silver's idea. For instance, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who is "flabbergasted" that bridge tolls are still on the table, worries that once these tolls are imposed, the next time the MTA is in trouble, they'll just increase them (Markowitz prefers a commuter tax). And many Senate Democrats are skeptical—Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx said to the Daily News, "I think that the Democratic conference still has a lot of unanswered questions. We were told last week that it had to be $5 in order to avoid a fare increase and add bus service."

The AP reports that Governor Paterson and the Legislature are currently working things out in "hopes to have a deal that can be passed in the Legislature by the end of the next week and Paterson could sign into law soon after." Also, the Senate will also post the drafted legislation for public comment on a website—www.nymtaideas.org (we except the comments to be much like the ones for the budget). And one driver told the Post, "If it's going to save the MTA, then $2 isn't that bad an idea. But $5? Wow! That's a lot of money for people."