Affordable Transit

Move NY’s Point by Point Rebuttal to Queens Electeds’ Opposition

As reported in The Observer. Move NY responds in bold to the statements appearing in italics.

“The ‘Move NY Fair Plan’ is far from fair and lacks any promise of returns. It is fundamentally unfair to charge residents a fee to travel within one city.”

This statement is just plain bizarre since we already charge residents a “fee” (i.e., the tolls they’re against) to travel between all of the boroughs of this “one city”: on nine crossings that connect Manhattan to Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx; Brooklyn to Staten Island and Queens; and Queens to the Bronx.

“It is certainly unfair to the families who live in the transit desert of Queens as it would landlock our Borough.”

What Katz and company fail to understand is that the status quo means that too many Queens residents will continue to live in the transit deserts Katz and Co. complain about. Their best hope for starting to fill those transit gaps is to use the Move NY plan and revenues it raises to secure new transit service in those parts of Queens that are underserved.

“The ideas in the proposal for mass transit improvements are great. But without any direct connection between the revenues generated from the proposed tolls to those very improvements, there is simply no guarantee that this proposal will actually yield anything tangible or amount to anything more than just that: an interesting idea.”

The Move NY Fair Plan includes specific investments in new and expanded service that would directly benefit Queens (and other borough) residents. They include: (a) restored bus service from cuts made in 2010; (b) more BRT/SBS routes and service; (c) more Express Bus routes and service and a dollar off all Express Bus fares (reducing price from current $6.50 to $5.50); and (d) extending City Ticket (heavily discounted fares for intra-city commuter rail service on LIRR and MNR) to seven days a week, thus giving commuters/travelers a new set of affordable and thus more accessible options for traveling into the core. All of these can be achieved within a year or two and before any new tolls go into effect.

“Our city’s mobility and growth depends on more affordable, reliable and efficient mass transit. We recognize it is critical that we find more stable transit funding sources other than from the driving and riding commuters’ pockets to fill deep budget gaps. But we reject the notion that there is only one way to generate additional monies for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and our region’s infrastructure.”

Be specific. What are those other ways? If BP Katz and Co. don’t have a more viable proposal, they should stand aside and let other leaders lead.

“Moreover, this proposal is not unlike the many other unfulfilled promises introduced over the years. This one does, however, have an equity deficit for many reasons, including but not limited to:

  1. The proposal tolls all routes from Queens to Manhattan;”

Yes, why should some Queens drivers pay through the nose to cross the bridges they use while others pay nothing – despite typically having a much greater number of transit alternatives? Queens drivers will see significant toll reductions on five of their six bridges. And even on the one bridge where tolls will be restored, drivers will only be charged the full toll ($5.54) for the lower level (that deposits vehicles below 60th Street). The upper level drivers (who exit at 61st Street) only will be charged the lower, discounted toll ($3.04).

  1. “There is inherent unfairness in the different charges for different residents of different boroughs;”

What is inherently unfair is the current system where most of the region’s commuters (i.e., those using the outer bridges, commuter rail, subways and buses) are effectively subsidizing those drivers who are paying nothing to use the city’s infrastructure and thus not contributing to its maintenance, like the rest of us.

  1. “The proposal doesn’t guarantee that any of the funds collected will be spent toward bettering transportation access for Queens’ residents.”

Nothing is guaranteed except that if we don’t collectively come up with a new revenue source to fund our transit and roads and bridges, Queens residents will continue to get a lousy deal.




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