MTA Chairman Joe Lhota says he wants to expand and improve Queens bus and subway service. But there’s a big pitfall — revenue.
Nearly 60 percent of the MTA’s revenue comes from riders — a higher percentage than in any other big city. But, there’s a huge revenue source that hasn’t been tapped — putting tolls back on all the East River bridges. They were built as toll bridges more than a century ago.
If I pay $2.25 to ride the subway to Manhattan, why shouldn’t someone who drives over the Queensboro Bridge also pay $2.25? That’s only fair. Mayor Bloomberg wants to impose tolls on the bridges, but the power to do that lies in Albany, and most legislators — including my state senator, Toby Stavisky — cave in to the auto lobby and oppose it. They say they want more MTA revenue streams, but block the best way to get them, which makes them hypocrites. Some claim that tolls will create traffic jams leading to the bridges, but an E-Z pass system will prevent that. Currently, New York has a patchwork system where all tunnels and some bridges have tolls. All bridges crossing the East River must be tolled. No more free rides for drivers.