MTA chief Elliot Sander announced this morning that the city’s transit agency is up against a $1.2 billion budget deficit, and needs government aid or new sources of revenue to avoid fare increases or service cuts. But an expected recommendation by the Ravitch Commission to toll East River bridges is already taking heat from the usual suspects.
Congressman Anthony Weiner and John Liu, chair of the City Council Transportation Committee, competed this weekend for best populist sound bite. Said Liu: "East River bridge tolls get bandied about every time there is a fiscal
crisis. The mayor tried to impose them during the dire fiscal straits
in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and even then it went over like a lead
balloon. This time it will sink equally fast — to the bottom of the
And here is Weiner’s entry: "Tolls on the East River bridges are just congestion pricing by another name. It is a regressive tax on the middle class. It’s a way to increase the traffic burden, and frankly it’s simply unfair to residents outside of Manhattan."
Naturally, the pandering pols didn’t have to go looking for microphones, as reporters also fanned out across the city for quotes from beseiged drivers and doomsaying business owners, who obliged by "blasting" those who would "drop the hammer on everyone" by "slapping" on the "wallet-busting" tolls.
As for funding alternatives, coverage included Liu’s reference to an unspecified "broad-based revenue source." And Weiner? As usual, the congressman was all talk, no stick.