Yes To Tolls

BY COUNCIL MEMBER DONOVAN RICHARDS

If you looked up the definition of “transit desert,” you might find a map of my City Council district.

One subway line, the A, has the system’s worst on-line performance. We have some of the longest commutes in the nation. There are two LIRR stops, priced up much higher than the subway, with one not even eligible for the railroad’s CityTicket program.

We deserve better. And I believe we can do better, but only if a smart program like the Move NY Fair plan wins approval in Albany.

That’s why I’m urging my Queens colleagues to take another look at this ingenious plan developed by former Department of  Transportation Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz.

Here’s an overview:
• The plan would LOWER tolls on the RFK Triboro, Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Marine Parkway and Cross Bay bridges. Meanwhile, tolls on the Queensboro would apply only to drivers going below 59th Street in Manhattan.
• Even before the toll changes go into effect, the Move NY Fair Plan would create new Bus Rapid Transit lines and add express bus and LIRR service, benefitting Queens.
• Express bus prices would drop $1 a ride.
• LIRR prices would go down for city riders by making CityTicket discounts available at all times, not just on weekends. (Move NY finally would include the Far Rockaway station, a recommendation added at my request.)
• Finally, it would create a $375 million dedicated fund for road and bridge repair, another feature missing from the Bloomberg plan.

No one likes to pay more money just to get around town. I understand that. But what I don’t understand is why some officials dismiss the 87 percent of their constituents who are already paying ever-increasing tolls and fares.

Those 87 percent have already seen seven fare and toll increases since 2000, and they’ll face another 15 percent hike if the legislature doesn’t come up with a new funding stream like Move NY’s.

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