Today’s Headlines

  • Big Three Bailout Clears House; Senate May Resist (NYT, Politico)
  • Ravitch Makes His Case to Assembly Members; Brodsky Moderates MTA Critique (NY1, News)
  • Brooklyn Pols Back Hasidic Opposition to Kent Ave Bike Lane (Bklyn Paper)
  • Psycho Car Owner Stabs Teen for Putting Bookbag on His Beemer (News, Post)
  • Obama Settles on Picks for Energy and Environment Posts (WaPo, Globe)
  • Rockaway and Broad Channel Insist on Driving Over Cross Bay Bridge for Free (NY1)
  • City Council Set to Pass Bill Curbing Motorcycle Noise (News)
  • Weiner ‘Not Thinking Right Now About Campaign 2009’ (City Room)
  • Senators Balk at Inclusion of Transit Aid in Carmaker Bailout (Transport Politic via Streetsblog.net)
  • A Green Detroit Would Make Transit Vehicles (V & V)
  • Larry Littlefield

    In addition to exempting the rich and even the affluent retired from taxes, Ravitch seems to be implying openness to a deal in which those in “special” categories would not have to pay tolls.

  • Good thinking, Weiner!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Weiner has other things to think about, like delivering $2 billion extra per year, on a permanent, ongoing basis, to the MTA from the federal government, funded by an increase in the gas tax. After all, he got his way on congestion pricing.

    I’m prepared to change my mind about him being a dishonest opportunist out to wreck the future of the city to pander to the privileged while advancing his own career if he delivers. I am always prepared to be persuaded by the facts.

    Deadline October 2009, a new federal budget with Weiners own party in control and a pro “change” President. (don’t even think of blaming the Republicans).

    Brodsky can deliver the other $2 billion — but without any sacrifices like a wage tax since he doesn’t think any are necessary.

  • The rap against funding transit (as opposed to roads) is that it’s not “shovel ready,” that it takes time to plan and design systems.

    So what? Aren’t jobs for engineers and planners as urgently needed as jobs for auto workers and pavers?

  • Kent Rider

    David Yassky is a complete weasel. He supports bike lanes but opposes the Kent bike lanes. He supports term limits but votes against them. Yeah, that makes total sense. Yassky wrote the DOT and complained about the lanes. Yassky opposes them and would rather give the Satmar their parking than make cyclists safer. It’s that simple. Complaining about “process” is the refuge of the spineless. There is never going to be a “consensus” until the Satmar get their parking. The consensus will be that Satmar parking is more important than biker’s safety. You should be embarrassed you twit.

  • “The MTA owes [a toll-free Cross Bay Bridge crossing] to us. They don’t give us great subway service. It’s a horrible commute into Manhattan. The least they can do it give us this subsidy and start looking at getting rid of the tolls completely,” said Community Board 14 representative Jonathan Gaska.”

    It’s a horrible commute into Manhattan because you chose to live at the absolute ass end of the city. Nobody forced you to live somewhere that you have to drive across a toll bridge to get practically anywhere else. It’s a horrible commute into Manhattan if you live in Philadelphia but you don’t hear people who live there complaining about tolls on the NJ Turnpike because very few people are stupid enough to live in Philadelphia and work in NYC. This is just an intracity version of exurban sprawl.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The MTA owes [a toll-free Cross Bay Bridge crossing] to us. They don’t give us great subway service. It’s a horrible commute into Manhattan. The least they can do it give us this subsidy and start looking at getting rid of the tolls completely.”

    So, they agree to eliminate the A train beyond Howard Beach? That would save a lot of money.

    I don’t see how the MTA could improve the subway commute. If the people who matter don’t want it, why not get rid of it?

    Perhaps as part of the plan NYCHA could swap residents who work and live in the Rockaways with residents who don’t work and live elsewhere, solving that problem.

  • @ Josh… re: Cross Bay Bridge –
    As someone who grew up not too far from that Cross Bay Bridge, I think your angry reaction is a bit off. Yes, those far out residents must realize they need to pay a toll to get into Manhattan, just like everyone else should. What really infuriates them however is that the Cross Bay Bridge makes you pay a toll to get into another part of Queens. It’s a rare intraborough toll that’s crippling since that part of Rockaway has few stores and services and they need to cross the bridge just to reach a larger supermarkets etc. Tolls to get into the city are a no-brainer… a toll to cross the street to your neighbor, I’m not sure if its warranted there.

  • Gridlock Sam’s idea of making the Cross Bay Bridge free in exchange for tolling the East River Bridges makes a lot of sense to me. That seems like a plan that a lot of motorists in Queens could, potentially, get behind…

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/11/05/gridlock-sams-compromise-plan/

  • I HATE Gridlock Sam’s plan! No tolls on the Harlem River bridges? Now way. I want tolls on the bridges that connect the Bronx to Manhattan. The people who live in the South Bronx don’t drive at all, but the air pollution is awful. We’re sick of being used as the city’s highway/parking lot. That plan is going to make it worse for us.

  • The argument that the Cross Bay Bridge toll is within Queens holds water only because that’s where the political boundaries are arbitrarily drawn. If the Rockaway peninsula were politically part of Nassau County with Lawrence and Cedarhurst and Atlantic Beach (which are just as close to the peninsula as Hamilton Beach and the Belt Parkway), people would still drive into the rest of Queens and Manhattan and go over the bridge and contribute wear and tear, but then a toll would be OK because the borders are different? That doesn’t make sense.

    And I’m sorry, if you moved to the only part of NYC that doesn’t have a closer supermarket that you can get to without driving over a bridge, that’s your own fault. If you wanted to live someplace easily accessible, there are about a zillion other places, but you chose to live out in the Rockaways or in Broad Channel or whatever. (Yes, the situation is obviously different for someone who grew up there and lived there because their parents did, but I’m speaking in general terms.) These people want all the benefits of living out on the beach way far away from the middle of the city, without any of the drawbacks.

    Let’s look at this a different way. If I get on the 6 train after work and go uptown to meet a friend for dinner, I’m paying a fare even though I’m just going to another part of Manhattan. (If I get on the A train at Beach 67th and take it to Howard Beach, I pay a fare even though I’m just going to antoher part of Queens, too.) Should I and everyone else only have to pay subway fares if we’re going to another borough? No, that would be ridiculous. I’m using something (the subway system) and I’m willing to pay for its use. Why aren’t these drivers willing to pay for the use of that bridge in the same way?

  • Josh,

    I see your argument and you raise strong points. I think I hold some sympathy with those on the other side of that bridge simply because from personal experience, most people in Broad Chanel and that area grew up there, and overall very few seek it out as a beach resort or anything. Those that do, are pretty well off living in wealthy areas like Neponset and certainly cannot complain about a few dollar toll for their fifty thousand dollar cars.

  • An Associated Press story headlined “Some autoworkers can get paid without leaving home” describes the Jobs Bank, a sweetheart deal that allows union members to live high on the hog while nominally unemployed. It came about in 1984 as an enticement to get workers to accept more automation in carmaking plants. Read on:

    GM factory workers who get laid off start out at “sub pay,” in which they receive unemployment benefits, and GM pays the difference, up to most of their salary, for 48 weeks.

    After that, laid-off employees go into the jobs bank, where they have the option of taking 85 percent of their base pay — which averages almost $62,000 a year — plus benefits, without reporting to work. In the meantime, the company tries to find them jobs elsewhere.

    Or workers can get 100 percent of their pay by reporting to either the union hall or the plant, where they may be called upon to perform tasks around the factory or sometimes community service work.

    But if there isn’t anything to do, workers simply stay at the union hall or factory and find ways to pass the time.

    Employees can sometimes turn down as many as three jobs at other company factories before they are kicked out with no more pay or benefits….

    So this is what the bailout cash is really for — along with enabling carmakers to continue to produce an obsolete product in even more obsolete configurations. That’s so much better than investing in walkable communities, painting bike lanes, and funding the MTA capital plan.

    The alternative is to let the carmakers go into bankruptcy and renegotiate the contracts that permit autoworkers from oinking and snorting at the unemployment trough. Their apologists paint them as working-class heroes, in contrast to the already bailed out Wall Street crowd, but the truth is, the autoworkers are no better than the investment bankers.

  • Some clarifications about the Cross Bay Bridge:

    There are two bridges, the Addabbo Bridge from Broad Channel to Howard Beach, owned by the City, and the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge from the Rockaway Peninsula to Broad Channel, owned by the MTA.

    The Addabo bridge is free, and that’s all that Broad Channel residents need to drive over to go shopping in Howard Beach. It’s the residents of the Rockaways – Breezy Point, Neponsit, Rockaway Park – who “need” to drive across the Veterans’ Bridge.

    The Addabbo Bridge has walkways, fishing areas and bike lanes on either side – the approximate width of four car lanes devoted to non-motorized transportation. The Veterans’ Bridge squeezes all that into a single lane for both directions, making it impossible to bike safely (although that doesn’t stop people from riding). The Veterans’ Bridge is currently being renovated at a cost of $56 million; who’s paying for that? The walkway was closed for almost a year for reconstruction; how come they didn’t build another walkway on the other side?

  • Let’s not forget the original purpose of bridge tolls. They were instituted to pay for the building of the bridges . They weren’t supposed to last in perpetuity. The gas tax was supposed to take care of maintenance.

  • Even if the gas tax may originally have been adequate to cover maintenance, it certainly isn’t now that it hasn’t kept up with inflation for years and years.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Let’s not forget the original purpose of bridge tolls. They were instituted to pay for the building of the bridges . They weren’t supposed to last in perpetuity. The gas tax was supposed to take care of maintenance.”

    The argument is fine as far as it goes. But it should have been made before all that money was spent to rebuild the Rockaway Bridges — and the East River Bridges.

    They had a useful life, which ended. Money was spent to rebuild them — probably more than was spent to build them to begin with, even adjusted for inflation. Money was borrowed to do this, and needs to be repaid. So even without a transfer to transit, the cost of the bridges is not zero.

    Ought we to make the Tappan Zee free? Than allow it to fall into the river when it can no longer be affordably maintained?

    I think what makes people upset is that total transportation revenues — gas taxes, tickets, motor vehicle fees, dedicated MTA taxes, tolls, fares, etc. — are close to or exceed total transportation spending in NY. Unfunded pension liabilities and debt service from the past, and the political claims on general revenues from elsewhere, make it so.