City Council’s Progressive Caucus Endorses Move NY Toll Reform

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Council Member Debi Rose and other members of the Progressive Caucus announced their support for Move NY today. Photo: @ydanis

The City Council has become the strongest source of political momentum for the Move New York toll reform plan. Today the council’s Progressive Caucus announced its support for Move NY, with 14 of the bloc’s 19 members voting to endorse, according to the Daily News.

The key to enacting toll reform is Governor Cuomo, who has dismissed the plan as a political impossibility. While the City Council can’t pass a saner toll system on its own, every endorsement of Move NY from an elected official undermines Cuomo’s contention that there’s no political appetite for it.

A guiding principle of the Move NY plan, which would put a consistent price on driving to the city core while lowering the price of bridges farther out, is to have Manhattan residents contribute a proportionally greater share than residents of other boroughs. This seems to be paying off, with endorsers on the Progressive Caucus representing districts all over the city. They come from northern Staten Island (Debi Rose), southeast Queens (Donovan Richards), the central Bronx (Ritchie Torres), northern Manhattan (Ydanis Rodriguez), and many districts in between.

One holdout on the caucus was eastern Queens rep Daneek Miller, who called toll reform “a regressive tax and an undue burden on low and middle-income families.” This is the line against road pricing that was deployed ad nauseam by former Westchester Assembly Member Richard Brodsky, who represented the region’s wealthiest car commuters. It wasn’t true in 2007 and it’s not true today — the people who would pay more under Move NY earn far more, on average, than the transit-riding New Yorkers who stand to benefit the most.

It’s hard to think of a system more regressive than the one we have now, where affluent car commuters can drive for free into the congested core of Manhattan, slowing down trips for fare-paying bus riders — all while the MTA takes on more debt that crowds out funding for service and threatens to send the price of a transit trip soaring.

When Richard Brodsky was playing the populist demagogue against congestion pricing, there was no organized progressive political force to counteract that message. With today’s endorsement, that’s no longer the case.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I feel like the MoveNY plan is missing something important that would increase people’s support of it: lower tolls during off peak times. Something along the lines of a discount from 8pm-6am, when there is not a whole lot of congestion in the CBD.

  • ahwr

    Unless I’m mistaken earlier statements explained the lack of time of day pricing by saying they want parity with MTA tolls to end toll shopping. But if the MTA was on board with time of day pricing they’d be fine with it too.

    Remember Bloomberg’s failed congestion charge dropped to zero weekends and weekdays 6pm-6am, an off peak discount wouldn’t guarantee success.

  • AnoNYC

    The problem is that if people truly do not understand existing issues, how could they possibly understand the solution.

    Too many people see the word toll and freak out. They do not realize why or see the potential benefits. They also do not trust the institutions managing transportation.

    If you take time to explain the MoveNY plan, most New Yorkers will agree.

  • AnoNYC

    The congestion charge should never be $0. That would ruin the balancing of the tolls. The costs are fine.

  • I’d love some insight into Daneek Miller. He’s a former bus driver who didn’t support SBS or Move NY. Even if he’s on the council to do the bidding of the transit unions, they generally support a pricing plan. What a mystery.

  • reasonableexplanation

    A lot of complex factors are responsible for Bloomberg’s plan failing, but I do think time of day pricing would make the toll plan ‘fair,’ in the sense that it would penalize those that aren’t really contributing to congestion less, which seems appropriate.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I mean, if it were zero it would be zero across the board, keeping the balance in place.

    However, I actually think the ‘highway’ crossings (midtown/battery tunnel, throgs neck whitestone, etc.) should be free at night, while the ‘local crossings (brooklyn/manhattan/queensboro) could remain paid (at a discount) off-peak. We want cars off the roads and on limited access highways for as much as possible when congestion isn’t a concern, which this would encourage.

  • com63

    It would have to be dynamic. Some of the worst congestion I have ever experienced on the williamsburg bridge has been after 8pm.

  • AnoNYC

    To clarify, I meant that the cost should never be zero to reduce toll shopping.

    However, the revenue is needed and the plan could not support as cheap daytime tolls without off-peak tolling.

    We also need to take into consideration that congestion can get really bad off-peak at the bottlenecks (bridges).

  • AnoNYC

    I drive across the Queensboro and Williamsburg Bridges a couple times a month during the evening. I’m usually stuck in pretty horrid congestion (especially along the former).

  • reasonableexplanation

    Dynamic is the best choice, and easy to implement, since the DOT already has live traffic data on all the bridges. However, even a flat on/off peak rate would be a huge improvement.

  • ahwr

    He’s looking for transit improvements in his district. Is he holding out for more than MoveNY offers?

    http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/transit-trouble-talks-bring-out-all-agencies/article_a8c75f3b-66a8-55f5-941a-af050eb41385.html

  • Alex

    If I’m not mistaken the original Bloomberg plan had an exemption for trucks (and vehicles?) entering before something like 5am? I might be wrong, it may simply have been advocated for.

  • Ook a Dook

    my oh my the move ny plan is certainly progressive as it excludes bridges in upper bronx and the upper manhattan where the city council transportation chairman has his voter base. the plan, therefore does not share the cost of tolls equally. why do the two areas indicated and drivers accessing the city from other areas get a free pass into manhattan and others do not?

  • ahwr

    They still pay if they drive into the CBD.

  • Matthias

    Too many people still assume that a toll means queuing at tollbooths and scrounging for change. When they learn about electronic billing, they either support it or invoke the surveillance state strawman.

  • rao

    You want rational? Make the tolls completely core-focused. Take the tolls off the Verrazano, the Whitestone and the Throgs Neck, and I bet you could get rabid support for this plan from many, many suburbanites on LI and SI.

    If we’re talking about a rational system, those facilities shouldn’t be part of the MTA anyway, since there is no parallel rapid transit service providing an alternative to them.

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