Senate Dems Denounce Bridge Tolls as Doomsday Draws Closer

Diaz_2007.jpgTake it to the bank: 67 percent of households in Ruben Diaz, Sr.’s Bronx district are car-free.

While the looming MTA doomsday scenario is desperate enough that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has put forward a proposal to charge drivers roughly the same as transit riders to cross East and Harlem River bridges, Democrats over in the Senate are balking at the prospect of requiring drivers to give up their free rides. The Daily News reports on yesterday’s Ravitch plan talks.

"If that is in there, there’s no way I’m going to vote for it and you can take that to the bank," Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx) said after the afternoon meeting.

Streetsbloggers may remember Diaz as one of the legislators who opposed congestion pricing on the grounds that it may adversely affect the environment. His district faces a slew of subway and bus service reductions [PDF] without transit funding equal to that proposed under the Ravitch plan, but Diaz is as yet unwilling to stand up for the whopping 67 percent of households that don’t even own a car.

Ditto Brooklyn’s Carl Kruger, another congestion pricing opponent, who has called tolling "a non-starter" and "an insult to every outer-borough resident in New York City." Kruger should check his census data. Almost half of the households in his district alone are car-free, and those who own cars have an annual income that more than doubles those who don’t. Yet it seems Kruger is willing to let the non-driving half of his constituency bear the brunt [PDF]. But what should we expect from the legislator who wanted to fine pedestrians for listening to iPods and talking on cell phones.

It’s still unclear where Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith stands on bridge tolls. Smith’s own Queens district, where some 34 percent of households don’t own cars, also stands to lose bus and train service in lieu of increased MTA funding [PDF]. Like his counterpart Shelly Silver, Smith owes it to his constituents and all New Yorkers to come out strongly in favor of bridge tolls and gain majority support.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Bronx Transit Riders to Rally Today at Diaz Sr.’s Office

|
Communities United for Transportation Equity (COMMUTE) will hold a rally today at the office of Ruben Diaz, Sr., one of a handful of state senators whose opposition to bridge tolls threatens to sink the MTA rescue plan. Says COMMUTE: Dozens of South Bronx residents and constituents of State Senator Rubén Díaz will rally outside his […]

Doomsday Transit Cuts, District by District

|
Barring a viable MTA rescue plan, the 140,000 transit riders in Ruben Diaz. Sr.’s district will lose the Bx4 and the Bx14 If you’re wondering how MTA doomsday service cuts will affect you, you can now look them up by state legislative district and ZIP code, thanks to new maps from the Regional Plan Association. […]

Senator Diaz: Sticking It to Transit Riders and Proud of It

|
In this scene from last night’s State Senate vote on the MTA funding package, Fare Hike Four member Ruben Diaz, Sr. relishes his substantial influence over the final bill: Today I’m standing here proud to say to my constituents. I promise you, constituents of the 32nd senatorial district, no toll. That would be the asthma-plagued […]

Transit Riders to Diaz: Not In Our Name

|
Constituents picketed outside the office of Ruben Diaz, Sr. yesterday to urge the Bronx state senator to get behind the MTA rescue plan, which includes new tolls on East and Harlem River bridges. Though some 140,000 people in his district use transit every day, and are facing serious service cuts along with steep fare hikes, […]

Kruger, Espada, and Diaz Leave MTA Rescue on Life Support

|
The three city reps who nearly derailed the Democratic takeover of the State Senate have issued a joint statement declaring — transit riders be damned — they’re not going to support bridge tolls. Liz Benjamin at the Daily Politics has the story: The Three Amigos — Sens. Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada Jr. and Ruben Diaz […]

Today’s Headlines

|
Republicans Won’t Back MTA Rescue Without Road and Bridge Funding (NYT, Newsday) Study: Particulate Pollution Shortens Life in Urban Areas (BBC) Most Straphangers in Ruben Diaz, Sr.’s District Are Just Fine With Bridge Tolls (WNYC) How Transit Doomsday Brinkmanship Played Out in Chicago (Politicker) Price of Oil Is on the Rise, and the Feds Still […]