A coalition led by former traffic commissioner Sam Schwartz is releasing a proposal today to enact tolls on four East River bridges and at 60th Street in Manhattan, in attempt to make the cost of the city's transit more equitable.
The group, MoveNY, issued the report in advance of another round of MTA fare increases, an attempt to point out that New Yorkers with fewer transit options are unfairly burdened with shouldering the bulk of the costs. The four bridges in question—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Queensboro—originate in outer borough locales rich with subway access, while those traveling between other boroughs—from Brooklyn to Staten Island, or Queens to the Bronx, for example—are subject to enormous tolls.
The proposed tolls would be $5.54 each way with an E-ZPass, and the same toll would apply at each road that crosses 60th Street in Manhattan, including the West Side Highway and FDR Drive. Conversely, tolls would be lowered to $3.04 in each direction on other bridges, including the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and the Throgs Neck Bridge. Creation of the new tolls would generate an additional $1.5 billion per year. Twenty-five percent of the new revenue would go toward improving roads and bridges, and the rest would be dedicated to improving mass transit.
The proposal also calls for a new taxi surcharge below 96th Street, and removes a parking tax exemption for Manhattan residents.
The MTA is currently $34.1 billion in debt, and the agency is anticipated this year to spend $2.2 billion in annual "debt service" to pay off its outstanding bonds. In his State of the City speech last week, Mayor de Blasio placed blame for the MTA's $15.2 billion capital budget shortfall squarely on Albany, which has failed to develop a plan for future needs.