Responding to Criticism, Sen. Adams to Hold Transpo Meeting

Sen.AdamsBIOheadshot.jpgWe posted yesterday about proposed legislation by State Senators Eric Adams and Jeff Klein to increase summer driving by suspending tolls on bridges and tunnels, thereby leaving transit riders to pay for their largess. Soon after, Adams constituent Carrie McLaren picked up the news on her neighborhood blog, Hawthorne Street. Now Adams wants to hold a kitchen cabinet meeting about the bill:

This discussion has been so extremely motivating that I would like to
take it to the next level. In order to do so, however, we must move
from conversation to action. I am not a talker, I am a doer. Therefore,
I will open my office 572 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY (718) 284-4700,
on Saturday, June 7th, at 10:00 AM for a meeting with all those who
emailed and responded to this issue.
I have a group of educators to
assist me on educational issues, a group of medical professionals for
aid on medical issues, and a group of law enforcement personnel to help
me deal with public safety issues. I would like to extend this paradigm
and invite those of you who have great ideas on transportation issues
to join me next Saturday in an attempt to turn your suggestions into
legislation. All are welcome. If you are planning to attend, please
email me at my personal email at

We’re glad to see the senator engage the public on transportation policy. Ideally it would eventually lead to discussion at the state level on the consequences of auto dependence, especially at the expense of transit funding, as this legislation would bring about.

Still, we can’t help but notice that while Adams wants to give millions of drivers a pass on tolls, he is a supporter of a bill that would require a handful of current and former MTA board members to give up their own toll and fare privileges. We can only assume that the title of his press release on the subject, "The Free Ride Is Over," is offered without irony.

  • Josh

    I don’t really see an inconsistency with both:

    A) Wanting to help out average people by giving them a pass on tolls (putting aside for the moment debate on whether this is a good idea), and

    B) Wanting MTA board members to be responsible for the same expenses as everyone else.

  • Shemp

    C’mon Josh – and widening the massive mass transit budget deficit in the process? How does that help average people?

  • Josh

    As I said, I’m leaving out, for the moment, the debate over the merits of whether suspending tolls is a good idea.

    I’m just saying, whether or not there are bridge tolls, I agree with Sen. Adams that MTA commissioners should be paying the same tolls as everyone else.

  • KOB

    Haha, I love the rendition of Adams’ picture on the Hawthorne Street blog – it’s perfect.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Josh’s perspective brings to mind Anatole France, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

  • Colin

    He’s trying and he’s reaching out.

    I’m beginning to change my mind about him…

  • Marty Barfowitz


    Reaching out is better than nothing, but, as someone who ironically names himself after a Brooklyn pol, I’d urge you to look at deeds, not just words, when it comes to your local elected officials. These guys come by words very cheaply. Writing and passing legislation is what we hire them to do. What is Sen. Adams really doing — not just saying — about MTA debt, crumbling transport infrastructure, red light cameras, congestion pricing, helping wean New Yorkers off of ever-more-costly automobile dependency, and making our communities more walkable, bikeable and transit-friendly so we’re a viable 21st century city.

    We know Eric Adams likes is energetic about showing up at press conferences and holding Saturday morning meetings. That’s more than lots of his colleagues can say. But when Sen. Adams heads back up to Albany, what is he actually DOING to make the changes that we need to make? That’s how we should judge our electeds.

  • Dave H.

    Hmm, I’m no expert on Albany (don’t even live in NY anymore) I think this is an excellent move by Sen. Adams.

    We can’t expect everyone to have an enlightened transportation policy before they have had a chance to think seriously about transportation (and hear from advocates and experts). I’m glad Sen. Adams is willing to listen.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Then you have to factor in his relationship to the actual power equation. Not necessarily a rising star but he is in a rising constellation. Presently a junior participant in the Democratic Senate minority he could quickly gain substantial power should the Republicans lose two seats in November. Now is the time to build relationships if you don’t already have them. Until power slips from Bruno’s grip, however, if you want anything done in Albany the Senate Democrats are no help at all. Be careful what you wish for though, Bruno has done a lot of good things, a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  • Dave

    As I have said before; owning a car is a privilege and suspending tolls to facilitate driving is 180 degrees from the right thing to do.

    We need tolls on all the bridges in the city to convince people to get rid of their cars and to fund transit. We need permit parking to restrict parking in the city to those who pay city taxes and insurance rates.

    A further subsidy of drivers in the city, as proposed by Adams, is completely regressive and hurts those who ride transit and who will be forced to pay the eventual higher fares.

    The elitists Silver, Bruno, and Brodsky completely screwed the transit-riding working class by killing Congestion Pricing. It is even more shocking that state senators like Adams will continue down the misguided path of accommodating drivers. Shame.

  • phil

    Brooklyn Says No to MTA Fare Hike
    Ads by Google
    John Adams
    A Shocking Critical Review
    Of John Adam’s Programs

    The MTA faced an overwhelming amount of public opposition to proposed fare and toll hikes at a hearing at the Brooklyn Marriott last night. And rightfully so. As it stands, the fare hike is unfair to transit riders, who will be asked to pay approximately 12.5% more on existing fares while drivers will be asked to only pay an increase of 11% on existing tolls.The proposal would increase base subway and bus fares from $2.00 to $2.25 and raise tolls by 50 cents.

    Straphangers and other transit riders dominated the audience of over 200 people, while only a few concerned drivers were present to express their concerns about proposed toll hikes on MTA bridges.This makes sense given that most Brooklynites don’t even own a car (see right).

    Several elected officials, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Assemblyman Jim Brennan (D-44) and State Senator Eric Adams (D-20), were also present and urged, like many other testifiers, the MTA Board to hold off on a fare and toll hike until after they have had time to find more State money for commuters.

    Senator Adams perhaps drew the loudest applause of the night when he called for members of city government at the rank of Deputy Commissioner or higher to ride transit for 30 days. He suggested that this experience in the shoes of “everyday New Yorkers” would better connect decision makers with the “working guy” [ahem, or working woman, Senator Adams] who “plays by the rules” and rides transit daily.

    Such a situation of state elected officals advocating more dollars to alleviate the possibility of a fare hike is rare, perhaps unprecedented. It’s a welcome shift from past history — many of the vocal fare hike opponents are partly responsible for the MTA’s current financial mess, and were part of the NY State Legislative that overburdened the MTA with debt. (A review of this debacle can be found in MTR # 561.) Hopefully, state leaders will take their responsibility for funding the transit system seriously and put their money where their mouth is come the January start of the next legislative session. Assemblyman Brennan’s two bills (A9424 and A9425) which seek to raise an additional $685 million for the MTA, may be a good starting point for discussion. The Campaign is certainly prepared to hold state electeds’ “feet to the fire” if they do not come through on their public statements.

    Straphangers Campaign staff attorney Gene Russianoff, carrying a cardboard cutout of Governor Spitzer, called on the Governor to stand up for transit riders. Unfortunately, according to NY Times City Room, the Governor failed to take a position on the hike at a press conference yesterday, instead saying the decision was up to the MTA Board.

    Tri-State Campaign staffer Ryan Lynch, in addition to asking for a delay in the fare and toll hike, urged the MTA to modernize its toll facilities to reflect that we are, in fact, living in the 21st Century. In the Campaign’s testimony, we reiterated our call for variable pricing on tolls (see also MTR # 564) and urged the MTA to implement high-speed tolling facilities at its Whitestone, Throgs Neck and Verrazano bridges, and to consider switching to cashless tolls in order to reduce pollution, congestion and improve safety. As MTR has frequently reported, other agencies in the region, like the Port Authority and NJ Turnpike Authority, are years–perhaps decades–ahead of the MTA in this regard, with high-speed tolls and variable pricing already in place on many facilities.

    The next MTA fare and toll hike hearings will take place at 6 pm tomorrow at Farmingdale State College in Nassau County and the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Queens. In an additional effort to solicit increased public comment on fare and toll hikes, the MTA and Empire State Transportation Alliance (ESTA) will hold a one-day listening session on Saturday, November 17.

  • JF

    So, how’d it go? Looking forward to your report.

  • Attendee

    Meeting went very well. Senator Adams was really gung ho about progressive transportation issues and wants to be the go-to guy in Albany on this topic. He won’t do it on his own though – he needs help setting up events in the city and sending advocates to Albany to educate his colleagues about the issues at hand.


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