Three Men in a Room Spike Bridge Tolls

gov_scrum.JPGPhoto: The Politicker

Breaking news from The Politicker’s Jimmy Vielkind:

David Paterson, legislative leaders and top staffers just emerged from a 90-minute meeting on an M.T.A. bailout package and declared that it will not include bridge tolls.

"The framework I see is that the Senate has really eliminated what my choice would be, which would be to have the tolls. If that’s the case, then we’re going to have to try to find alternative ways to come up with several hundred million dollars that would replace what would have been the revenues generated by the tolls," said David Paterson, who made a rare appearance at a press scrum outside his second-floor office.

The possible alternatives Paterson spoke of include a gasoline tax, increased automobile registration fees and parking fees — though Paterson said he considered a gas tax hike "out of the question." 

For his part, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver characterized the still-secret plan as a righteous rebuke of last week’s MTA board vote to raise fares and cut service — which state lawmakers failed to prevent despite years of warnings. Said Silver:

"I think what’s most important is we’re dealing with the one thing the
three of us agree [on]—the actions of the M.T.A. board cannot be
allowed to stand. We have to get together and provide the revenue and
ensure these 31-percent fare hikes do not stand."

Now that Shelly’s own $2 toll plan has succumbed without ever coming up for a vote: New York State Legislature, what are you smoking?

  • Sez

    Who says Shelly ever wanted his toll plan to come to a vote? He could have had the assembly vote on it a long time ago. The blame is on the Senate Dems but Shelly, the assembly and GOP have gotten a pass. Shelly, the man who killed congestion pricing, is getting rehabilitated by the newspapers without having to put himself or his caucus on record as voting for tolls. Bow to the master.

  • Notice that Silver didn’t promise to avert service cuts. (Or was the quote incomplete?)

  • Glenn

    The same could be said last time when Bruno was talking big about passing it in the Senate while Assembly Dems were on the firing line over their opposition.

    Two differences that I see:

    1. Bruno was probably bluffing – he probably didn’t have the votes then, while Shelly would have been able to pass his plan (because it was his, not Bloomberg’s).

    2. Shelly was primaried on this issue by Paul Newell and it made an impact. He also saw what happened to Marty Connor who’s district overlapped with his. His plan was not as good at Bloomberg’s or Ravitch on tolls, but he devised a potentially winning principle in my opinion. His plan was unique in that he tried to establish parity between transit fares and bridge tolls.

    Silver’s plan is viable with some more pressure on Senate Dems. There are two routes – primary the Fare Hike Four, Five, Six, whatever…or open up the process to allow Senate Republicans (Bloomberg should be able to get 5-6 upstate votes on that side) to vote for a bi-partisan toll plan.

  • Streetsman

    “gasoline tax, increased automobile registration fees and parking fees…”

    it’s so frustrating that they are willing to charge drivers to subsidize mass transit, at least in spirit, but not in a way that really does anything to ease congestion or discourage motor vehicle use

  • Sez

    We’ll never know if Bruno coulda or woulda passed congestion pricing. We’ll probably never know if Shelly coulda or woulda passed his toll plan either. That’s the beauty of it.

  • What a relief! I was afraid National Drive To Work Day would be hampered by those tolls!

  • Car Free Nation

    As much as I’d like to change things so my Brooklyn neighborhood wasn’t a doormat for toll shoppers, I’m very much in favor of market rate street parking and more registration fees as a way to push more people toward a car-free lifestyle. We first got rid of our car because we couldn’t handle the hassle of parking. If we had to pay for on street parking and high registration fees, we would have gotten rid of the car much earlier.

    Since getting rid of our car, we drive a lot less, and even joined transportation alternatives. A new plan that charges people who don’t drive, rather than tolls which only affect the few people who drive into the city, might have an even greater effect toward bringing sanity to our streets.

  • Ashcan Sam

    Parking permits are key. Otherwise, increased registration fees will only increase the number of illegal out-of-state registrations.

  • Despite all the depressing machinations, I will say I am excited at the prospect of a gas tax hike. Since there are quite a few states already mulling it, the more the better, the more the idea will appeal to other states.

  • “The Gridlock Three.”

  • Sez

    If $2 bridge tolls pissed the motoring classes off, how do you think hundred dollar plus annual parking permits are going to go over? It ain’t happening. They are scrambling. The transit cuts are going to have to happen before these knuckleheads start feeling enough political pain to really act.

  • Three Men in a Chauffered Car

  • fdr

    The second item on the Channel 11 news tonight was a smiling Kaity Tong announcing that drivers would be relieved to know that the proposed bridge tolls were dead.


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