NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The city’s former traffic commissioner has a new plan to put tolls on East River bridges. But this proposal has some novel “selling points,” including a first-ever toll for cyclists.
Plan to toll the bridges have come and gone over the past few years, but the latest one by Sam Schwartz is starting to pick up steam, maybe because it goes after everyone.
“I’m trying to be equal opportunity pain throughout the region,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz, known as “Gridlock Sam” to many, wasn’t kidding Friday when he told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer that his new plan to raise $1.2 billion a year tolling the East River bridges will hit a lot of people. He wants to make everyone pay, even some who think they should be exempt.
“I’m asking the bike riders to pay 50 cents each way to use the bridges coming into our Central Business District,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz also wants to put a new surcharge on yellow and livery cabs, a surcharge on so-called “black cars” and a surcharge on parking in Midtown. New tolls would be put on the Ed Koch Queensboro, the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.
Driver would pay $5 with E-ZPass; $7 without.
But in exchange for keeping cars out of the Central Business District below 60th Street, Schwartz wants to reduce – that’s right, reduce — tolls on uptown spans, the Triboro, Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges.
The round-trip tab would drop from $13 to $8.
With Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Asia, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said that while the mayor isn’t supporting a congestion pricing plan at this time, it is necessary to find some way to fund mass transit.
“It is definitely vital that we figure out how we’re going to fund transit for the long term. It’s the only way New York City is going to stay competitive,” Holloway said.
Drivers are definitely not on board.
“It may help with traffic, but I mean I think we pay for enough as far as tolls coming into the city and gas prices the way it is. I don’t think we need more tolls,” Brooklyn resident Lance Smith said.
“I think it would just slow traffic more. I’m not really for it,” added Rhonda Rosenfeld of New Hyde Park.
“That would be a disaster,” another person said.
Just for the record, before 1911 there were tolls on the Ed Koch bridge — 10 cents for cars, 5 cents for push carts and 3 cents for horses.