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Poll Shows Unequivocal Support for Move NY’s Toll Swap




Brian Zumhagen: 917.744.2397,

Alex Matthiessen: 917.617.0013,

Poll Shows Unequivocal Support for Move NY’s Toll Swap as Best Way to Generate Revenue to Fix the City’s Transit, Roads and Bridges

Strongest Support in City’s Two Most Car-Dependent Boroughs: Staten Island & Queens

New York, NY, January 31 – Today, the advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives released a portion of a recent poll, conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, asking New Yorkers which among four options they prefer to generate the revenue needed to rehabilitate the City’s transit system, roads and bridges. 54% of all respondents citywide chose the solution that reflects the Move NY Fair Plan, a proposal that was introduced as legislation in both the Assembly and Senate last year and is expected to be reintroduced this year. The solution was worded as follows: “Introduce new tolls on bridges that lead into Manhattan currently without tolls, while lowering them on bridges in other boroughs that already have high tolls.”

Support for the other three options offered was much lower: 16% for a tax on all residents; 6% for higher fares for subway and bus riders; and 19% for “none of the above.” Among the boroughs, Staten Island was the most in favor of the toll swap concept at 62%. Queens, where opposition to tolling the East River bridges has traditionally been most fierce, was second at 55%. (And no wonder: Tolls on five out of six Queens bridges would drop in price by nearly half; only one bridge – the Ed Koch/Queensborough Bridge – would see a new toll and even that one would be heavily discounted for drivers heading to Manhattan north of 60th Street.) Brooklyn, which has three of the four East River bridges where tolls would be restored (all four were tolled until tolls were removed in 1911), favors the idea by a slight majority (51%).

The Move NY bills’ two sponsors in Albany–Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez and Senator Andrew Lanza–are presently considering modifications to their respective, nearly identical bills with the aim of reintroducing a pair of “same-as” bills in the coming weeks.

Poll highlights:

  • Support for the toll swap idea is stronger by margins of 9-1 and 3-1 compared to the other proposed solutions
  • All five boroughs above 50% (51%-62%)
  • Support for toll swap idea strongest among women (59%), voters under 35 (62%), and Staten Island residents (also 62%)
  • Support among Republicans (58%) higher than Democrats (56%) or Independents (43%)
  • Above 50% of voters support the plan in all age brackets except 65+ (46%)
  • Support for toll swap by race also very solid — all constituencies above 50%
  • One result which appears to break against conventional wisdom but accords with our “theory of change” is that support improves with decline in income

Poll results are especially impressive considering that 68% of the people surveyed are car owners, in a city where only 46% of inhabitants own a car. The poll surveyed an even cross section of the population at large, but a specific sample of double and triple prime voters who tend to trend older, wealthier and more likely to own a car. While at 50%, support for the “toll swap” among car owners is slightly less than it is among all respondents citywide, as would be expected, the strong representation of car owners in the poll makes these highly positive numbers in support of a solution like the Move NY Fair Plan even stronger.

The poll also asked who controlled the MTA. Only 28% of those polled knew that the governor controls the MTA; 28% thought the legislature did; 13% the mayor and 10% the City Council.

Paul White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said, “These poll results show that a wide range of New Yorkers, even those who drive, support a more equitable tolling system that would raise essential funds to strengthen transit and give communities an unprecedented say about which repair and expansion projects are most urgently needed.”

“Our roads are a mess and snarled with traffic and our transit system is arguably at a 30-year low, with millions of riders experiencing the maddening frustrations of over-crowding and delays on a daily basis,” said Alex Matthiessen, Move NY’s campaign director. “With yet another poll demonstrating that a majority of New Yorkers support the concept of using a fairer tolling system to raise desperately needed funding to maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure, it’s time for Albany to act on the Move NY legislation that was introduced in the NY State Legislature last year. Bring it to a vote and let the people decide.”

A poll conducted by Global Strategy Group in late 2014, which provided substantial details of the Move NY plan to respondents, showed New Yorkers favored adopting the plan by nearly two-thirds: 62% in favor and 31% against.

Throughout January and into February, Transportation Alternatives has been and will be releasing portions of a new election year poll it commissioned from Penn Schoen Berland, gauging the attitudes of New York City voters on a number of transportation issues, including Vision Zero street design and traffic enforcement and the proposal to prioritize buses, biking and walking on Manhattan’s 14th Street during the L Train shutdown.

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Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) conducted live telephone interviews from November 16-28, 2016 among n=880 New York City likely voters. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.30% at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups. Some percentages may add to more or less than 100% due to rounding. All respondents are registered voters, 95% say they voted in the most recent election for Mayor, and 93% say they will vote in the upcoming November elections.

Definition of crosstabs


Move NY Related Questions

  1. Who do you believe controls the MTA, including New York City’s subways, buses, and bridges?


  1. For years, New York City’s subways, buses and road network have been underfunded and in need of investment, resulting in poorer service, crumbling roads, and traffic congestion. Some drivers also pay high tolls to cross bridges in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island while other drivers pay no tolls at all on most bridges leading into Manhattan.

To help pay for improvements to transit and New York City’s roads and bridges, what should the Governor do first?


Further Reading

1-31-17 Crain’s Article by Erik Engquist


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