The case for tolls: Free bridge traffic up


As some of the city’s East River crossings remain tolled while others are free, city drivers have engaged in “bridge shopping” in the wake of the recent MTA toll hikes, the city’s Department of Transportation has found. In a recent report, the agency found that traffic on the tolled bridges declined while volume across the free bridges has increased by a corresponding amount. While DOT refused to speculate on the connection between the two, the ties seem rather obvious to me.

The New York Post has the numbers:

Data compiled by the city’s Transportation Department showed that traffic volume on all four of the tolled bridges and tunnels across the East and Harlem rivers fell between 2008 and 2009, while it increased on 10 of the city’s free bridges. The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel took the biggest hit, losing 4,363 of its customers, or 7.9 percent, during the financially perilous one-year span…

During that same period, the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges added a total of 4,246 vehicles to their annual count — nearly the same number that abandoned the Battery Tunnel. Those three bridges, of course, don’t cost a cent.

A similar trend was evident at the tolled Henry Hudson Bridge, where traffic was down by 3.6 percent, or 2,494 vehicles. The free alternative, the Broadway Bridge, saw a corresponding jump of 2,300.

Traffic expert and long-time toll advocate Sam Schwartz bemoaned the environmental impact of the so-called “bridge shoppers.” “It’s really very bad for the environment. They’re polluting a lot, driving extra miles, using more gasoline,” he said while arguing that the free bridges should be tolled — as they were in the early 1900s — in order to encourage efficient driving, reduce congestion and generate more revenue.

Of course, James Vacca, the head of the City Council’s transportation committee and a representative that hails from a district in which car ownership rates is higher than the city average, had a different take. “We may be reaching the point of diminishing returns with the constant toll and fare increases,” he said. “If they keep raising it further, I’m worried about the impact on jobs. The reality is, some people do have to take their cars to work.”

I know Vacca must balance the demands of his car-owning constituents with his role as head of the transportation committee, but his has been and always will be a spurious argument. Those, such as plumbers, electricians and delivery services, who “have to take their cars to work” are in the best position to pass along any tolls or fees to their customers, and anyone who drives in just to pay to to park in Manhattan can afford the East River Bridges. If they can’t, numerous subway lines serve the same areas.

At some point, common sense will overtake a debate built on strawmen, but while our politicians refuse to see the need to reduce congestion while generating revenue, local roads and free bridges will continue to see traffic increase.

Categories : Congestion Fee

128 Responses to “The case for tolls: Free bridge traffic up”

  1. Dave 'Paco' Abraham says:

    If I cross the river by car, its free. If I cross the river by mass transit, I have to pay. DUMB. I long for the day when NYC gets equitable tolling strategies and feel insulted by Jimmy Vacca’s reasoning.

    • Donald says:

      That’s because when you cross the bridge by car, your paying for your own expenses. When you cross the bridge by bus or train, someone has to pay the salary of the train operator/ bus driver, as well as the cost of the electric/ diesel fuel. But when your crossing the bridge in your own car, there are no salaries to pay and you pay for your own fuel. So it makes perfect sense that driving is free and mass transit costs money.

      • What about the costs of pollution, congestion and wear on the road that the car exerts? The idea that driving has no external costs is an inaccurate one.

        • AlexB says:

          Not to mention the massive cost incurred over the last 3 decades of practically rebuilding all these ancient bridges.

          • Al D says:

            These bridges also serve the commerce and economy of the city so it is imperative that they remain in good repair.

            • sharon says:

              Both the transit infrastructure and the road infrastructure are needed for NYC to thrive and grow.

              Both need to be rebuilt and funded with a combination of taxes and fees.

              Motorist pay their fees in fuel taxes, insurance surcharges, sales tax, etc.

              Transit riders pay a fare.

              Both are set by political forces that do not make proper management decisions

              If the MTA was run for the best interest of the public the salary management and operations structures would be far different then they are now. Its is a shame that it has come down to this but I reiterate that working and middle class people are paying the burden of a bloated corrupt union dominated government where we pay far too much and get far to little in return. There is enough money in the current structure to pay for what we need and also pay a fare wage to workers. It is often the inefficiency of operation led by status quo manager which is the issue.

      • BBnet3000 says:

        Donald, I assume youre using the boat ramps and taking your Amphicar from Queens to Manhattan.

      • Alon Levy says:

        Who builds and maintains the roads – the pixies?

        • sharon says:

          If we paid the road workers fair market wage instead of inflated union rates, they cost of road repairs would not be so high.

          A friend of mine owns a small business that supplies the construction industry including many public projects. The construction unions refuse to allow any repair companies to service any trucks that are not unionized themselves

          . In a nutshell his company needs to pay a UNION body a few thousand dollars a week to be “part of the union” which he then passes along dollar for dollar to the construction companies and the public.

          These inflated wages get paid by US. Fair wages not new tolls

      • Andrew says:

        Good thing the tooth fairy is paying for this.

    • sharon says:

      You are getting a service when you take a train across the river. Cars already paid that cost with fuel taxes, sales tax and licence fees, parking meters and parking garages. You are comparing apples to oranges. Why not just pay for the moving trucks of the last of the middle class out of the city?

      The data shows that the tolls on the bridges and tunnel are TOO HIGH. People don’t visit family on staten island due to the high toll(which si residents pay less than half) The tolls are criminal.

      Like I stated over and over again, the MTA payroll is too high and productivity is far too low. We are paying people that sweep trains the equivalent of $35 an hour(with benefits), paying a door operator on trains that are not needed, multiple long island rail road conductors (ticket collectors) are making north of $100,000 a year.

      We have workers that do one task, get over paid for said task and then we hire another work to do another low skill task while worker number one is idle doing nothing. Express bus drivers are the perfect example. These drivers are idle mid day doing nothing. To make matters worse they drive back to there depots on si, queens and brooklyn empty and back empty to pick up evening rush

      We have station agents that sit in booths once again at double the marker rate for the position and have no ability to enforce the fare as fare evasion and vandalism cost riders and taxpayers

      Operations problems continue down to the toll plaza’s. At the marine parkway bridge where 95% of the people use ez-pass we have two cash toll collectors on duty, one in each direction. At disney world, one person handles two lane of constant traffic into the parking lot.

      This list goes on and on. More taxes(tolls) are not the answer, MAJOR STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO OPERATIONS AND EMPLOYEE contracts is. I am not saying to make the pay rate and contact terms one sided against the employees but the balance needs to be put in place. The unions have used any increase as a justification for further rasies

      I am not anti-union worker in the least bit. I work for a state agency and part of the union but we can not continue this tax tax tax and use a one sided view. It is not driver vs. transit riders. It is the total of the society together. That is not the discourse we have

      • Bolwerk says:

        Oh, to hell with the lazy, indigent Amerikan middle class. We already are paying for their roads and schools in many suburbs and around the country. The whole backdrop to teabaggery is the fear that their gravy train will end.

        The problem is simple: parking meters + tolls + fuel taxes + registration fees + DIRECT SUBSIDIES FROM TAXPAYERS + BORROWING is not even covering the direct costs of the national road system anymore – never you mind all the problems with indirect subsidies like externalities such as pollution, accidents, foregone property taxes, wars, and the loss to middle class indigent households that must pay car expenses amounting to $hundreds/month or $thousands/month to survive. And how we account for our transportation system is so terrible we don’t even know how big the shortfall is, but it might be in the $trillions at this point.

        The idea that drivers pay for themselves is a dream.

        • sharon says:

          The one factor you conveniently leave out is said roads are also used to allow businesses to provide service and public safety and would needed to be built and maintained anyway

          When ever you start your analysis of a situation with you opinion already decided you sound like and idiot zealous. The middle ground is missing from many people thinking

          • Bolwerk says:

            I left that out because it’s not relevant to my point. Or, if it is relevant, it only helps my point: your refusal to pay your own costs actually is detrimental to businesses too. It screws nearly everyone, even the drivers who are sitting in traffic instead of getting to their destinations.

            There is no “middle ground” here. You can have your own opinions, but you cannot have your own facts. We are not covering the cost of our road system, locally or nationally. The fact that we were putting the costs on the credit card was bad enough, but now we are even deferring maintenance. Of course, we can continue subsidizing roads (as we have since at least the 1930s), but we cannot continue, as a society, to not pay for them. The only opinions left to choose from whether you want to have the government continue to partly subsidize them, and by how much, or have road users pay all their direct and indirect costs.

          • Adirondacker12800 says:

            And the subway gets the employees that provide the goods and services, to the business. And the customers.

      • ajedrez says:

        So then if the free bridges are tolled, maybe the tolls on the bridges/tunnels that are already tolled could remain the same during the next fare hike.

        Going to Manhattan without a car is easy. Going to Staten Island without one isn’t. That’s comparing apples to oranges.

      • Alon Levy says:

        So what if cars pay fuel taxes and registration fees? Those are not enough to cover road maintenance.

  2. Anonymoose says:

    Toll all East River bridges, but charge half the current rate for all spans. Tada!
    (Disclaimer: have not done the math. Know where I can get the numbers?)

    • Edward says:

      Agreed. The reason there are no tolls on the East River bridges is that those who are calling for tolls (Ben among them) want to make it punitive to drive into the city. A $10 toll to cross the East River is ridiculous. If the city wanted to institute a toll that was .50 or .75 cents more than the current subway fare, that would be fine. A $3 toll to cross a bridge is eminently fair. Anything more than that is too much. But car haters just want to make drivers pay through the nose, hence any pol with half a brain will not pass legislation putting high tolls on city bridges, unless said pol wants to go on permanent vacation at the end of his/her term.

      • You’re 100 percent putting words in my mouth. I’ve never said anything about a toll amount. I’d be all on board with a $3 toll. That would be ideal.

        • Edward says:

          Excellent. From now one, when you run a story such as this, feel free to include an actual toll amount of $3 or so in the article.

          • A $3 toll would do just enough to discourage the right amount of driving to clear up a good deal of congestion while not being too onerous of a toll and generating revenue. You’d avoid bridge shopping problems and cut down on car rides.

            • Edward says:


            • SEAN says:

              I believe a 2x transit fare works best as a toll amount i,e $4.50. Keep that ballence reguardless what ever the transit fare is.

            • Andrew says:

              Possibly, possibly not. Have you actually run the numbers (or spoken to a transportation economist who has) or is that just your gut feeling?

              • From those I’ve spoken with $3 is on the low end of the toll spectrum. It would reduce traffic by a bit and raise some revenue. Its effect wouldn’t be as great as, say, $8, but it’s also more of a realistic goal politically.

                • Alon Levy says:

                  Are you sure? To me it seems the biggest psychological barrier is between 0 and $0.01. Raising a toll from $3 to $8 is much easier than instituting one in the first place, and politicians know that and treat any toll as a very high toll.

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    The reason politicians are reluctant to institute any toll is they know once it is in effect it will never stay at that rate and that within a few years it will double. Times have changed since the days of Robert Moses when a 25 cent toll remained the same for 40 years.

                    So a $3 dollar toll won’t remain that way for long. If people could trust government to know it would remain at that amount for a long time, maybe you would get support for that idea.

                    Had the 10 cent toll on the Sunrise Parkway not been abolished when they tried to make it a quarter, today you would be paying $5 and people would also be using free routes and causing congestion to avoid it. There needs to be less of a disparity between the free and pay bridges. That’s clear. But it somehow needs to be done fairly. Some people need to cross the river more than twice a day and those people would be unfairly penalized by a toll system that doesn’t recognize that fact.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Uh, why should tolls be a buy-one-get-one-free deal? If you cross twice, you cost twice as much as you do when you cross once. It’s not like bus riders get a free ride the second time they ride a bus. It’s not like bus riders cost as much as drivers do to society as a whole.

            • sharon says:

              People who drive HAVE TO DRIVE and said toll would just impose yet another tax.

              Plain and simple

              • Bolwerk says:

                Okay, it’s a tax. It’s a tax that partly offsets the cost of driving they’re not paying for themselves. Why is a laissez-faire advocate complaining about that? You should be advocating for higher tolls.

                • sharon says:

                  transit riders are not paying for themselves either

                  The cost of the fare is far less then the cost to operated, construct, build and pay pensions. They are paying far less then motorist who pay for EVERY MILE THEY DRIVE IN FUEL TAXES which are some the highest in the country. 30 cents higher than NJ

                  • Transit riders also aren’t contributing to congestion and pollution. It’s not a very balanced equation.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      In all fairness, they contribute to transit congestion. :-p

                      Of course, drivers do too, often without paying for the costs wrought on bus riders who are slowed down.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    I didn’t say transit users were paying for themselves.

                    But, why exactly are drivers supposed to pay less than transit riders on a per-mile basis? Financing a road system isn’t cheaper than operating a proper transit system, and if drivers are not paying significantly more per mile there is something seriously wrong with the financing model.

                    And that’s all ignoring the negligible environmental effects of rail transit and to a lesser extent buses vs. the high negative externalities associated with automobile usage.

                • BrooklynBus says:

                  Couldn’t answer your question above. You asked why if you cross twice in one day you should get a break. For one, the cost is now free so if you charged $6.50 each way like on the pay crossings you would cause undo hardship on those who have to cross 4 times a day or more. A second reason is that in the past it has been practice to give regular commuters or very frequent travelers a break. This also holds true for transit, hence the idea of the monthly pass came about.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    I don’t see anything wrong with selling a pass, but that’s more for the sake of efficient administration.

                    No matter how you spin it, if you cross twice you cause at the very least twice the wear and tear as you do when you cross once. That’s a cost, and it’s never free. Someone pays for it.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      It’s not only for efficient administration. The logic is that frequent users should get a break. As I said it is not a concept unique to drivers but applies just as much to mass transit.

                      I agree with your second point.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I don’t see any logic to that here. It makes sense to give transit users a break because using transit more means lowering the marginal cost of an additional ride. Using a car more just doubles the cost.

                      Breaks should go to people who are causing less harm; in the case of motorists, it would make more sense to give them to people who use smaller cars or who carpool.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Er, well, “doubles” it is wrong, but the cost increases roughly lineally with the additional use.

                  • Andrew says:

                    Actually, what you said was “Some people need to cross the river more than twice a day and those people would be unfairly penalized by a toll system that doesn’t recognize that fact.” Pricing per trip is neither unfair nor is it a penalty. If I buy ten apples, I pay ten times as much as if I buy one. That’s perfectly normal and perfectly fair.

                    Until 1997, subway riders paid per ride.

            • sharon says:

              you would avoid bridge shopping problems if you lowered the existing tolls to the price point where people will choose them instead of going out of the way to free bridge. The problem is the tolls have been raises so much that people of moderate means such as myself are priced out

              Also remember every dollar you are sucking down the tubes of taxes and tolls is a dollar that is not being spent in the local community. If you charge $3 each way to the local plumber who works 5 days a week you are taking $30 dollars extra out of the local economy causing job loss.

        • sharon says:

          $3 that’s funny. remember when the VZ was $3 and now it is north of $10, way north of $10

          Once the tolls are in place they will go up and up. A better public policy is to lower the tolls on the currently tolled spans shifting drivers to them as they will be an attractive alternative to the more crowded free bridges. Increased traffic at lower prices brings in more money!!!! That is exactly what has happened for years. You are on the BQE and see the line to merge onto the road to the Brooklyn Bridge. Take the tunnel is the choice but now it is just too much money so wait for the bridge is the only affordable choice.

          I was for congestion pricing during rush hour only but not the constant tax the working man out of NY.

          99% of the people driving into the city during rush hour mass transit is not an option!!!!.

          The answer is to take the same thought to the cost of mass transit. Raise the fare to $3 per rider maybe then the politicians will have to make the choice between the UNION LEADERSHIP or the riding public.

          • 99% of the people driving into the city during rush hour mass transit is not an option!!!!.

            Do you have any proof at all to back up your claims or are you just pulling stuff out of thin air? That’s not even remotely true.

            • sharon says:

              I have 30 years of talking with my friends family and neighbors plus years of forced driving into the city when I worked for a city agency and drove an agency vehicle.

              No one in their right mind would drive into NYC during rush hour if they did not have to. Where would they park there car. In almost all business districts there is virtually no street parking. If you take a look at the composition of the traffic in Manhattan during the day it is mostly commercial trucks, cabs and expensive cars.

              There is not firm accurate unbiased information on this matter. Even the census data you fight my arguments in the past are not accurate . Take a look at the census response rate.

              When can talk in circles until the cows come home but the facts are simple. We need to use the existing infrastructure to it’s maximum that means lowering the cost of the tolls at existing crossings to balance out the traffic. The current system allows those who have and can afford to pay the toll to take the quicker toll route and those who can not to utilize the non toll option. The problem is that the tolls have been risen too high as to reduce the number of people who take the toll route.

              I am one of them, as an occasional driver into the city mostly weekends and nights, I have often opted to pay the battery tunnel and get to my destination quicker. The cost has just gotten too high.

              Basic business theory shows that there is a price point when you raise the price too much you reduce demand. The mta has far exceeded that price point and the numbers show it.

              In the LA area they are toying with allowing people to use the HOV lanes at a steep price point for faster access. They should be explored at the mta. Lower the overall toll price at the bridges and tunnels but allow cars with one occupant to use the HOV for a steep price. those who choose to get there quicker will pay up

              • When can talk in circles until the cows come home but the facts are simple.

                The facts are simple when one does not insist on making them up as you’ve done here for years. I’m done arguing with you about this because you just do not listen to reason or fact-based arguments.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Um, you don’t see the connection between lack of street parking – certainly not taken up by cabs, who don’t spend much time parked – and the under-market price of driving into Manhattan? Sure, I think tolls could be lowered on the tolled bridges – if they equalize the cost of driving across what are now ironically referred to as “free” bridges. Encouraging more driving by making the tolls cheaper means less parking for you, and crappier air for everyone else. It’s stupid, and everyone loses, even the non-drivers who foot much of the bill.

                • BrooklynBus says:

                  Lowering the tolls will not cause more cars to enter the City because there are other factors which discourage driving into Manhattan. It will however ease congestion by shifting drivers away from the free routes.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Even if lowering the tolls on the currently tolled routes gets some people to go back to the tolled routes, as long as there are “free” bridges there will be people doing incredibly stupid things to avoid the tolled bridges. Every crossing should be priced the same – which is very fair for the people who current need to use a tolled bridge, because they will deal with less congestion and likely a lower toll.

                    The point for Sharon is that as long as more people are encouraged to come in than can fit into available parking places (arguably unrelated to bridges) there will be parking shortages.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      What you say is correct. That’s why the amount charged is so important. You just can’t bring the price of the free bridges up to the insane price of the TBTA bridges. You need to choose a midpoint for all the bridges by lowering the TBTA costs.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I would like to see the amount charged that brings traffic to a sensible, manageable level. If that’s $4/crossing, charge at least that. If it’s $20/crossing, charge that. Traffic should flow, congestion should be minimal, and deliveries should be made efficiently.

            • ajedrez says:

              You have to consider that there are some people who aren’t necessarily driving into Manhattan: They are driving through Manhattan to get to a part of New Jersey that may not have good transit access.

              That was the good thing about congestion pricing: The existing tolls would be discounted from the congestion pricing fee, so people who truly needed to enter Manhattan just to pass through would be able to do so.

              • Andrew says:

                But driving through Manhattan places just as much wear and tear on the bridges, and clogs up the streets just as much, as driving to Manhattan! (Ignoring parking issues, that is.)

                There are routes to New Jersey that don’t pass through Manhattan. For some trips they’re out-of-the-way; for others, they’re the most direct routes, but the current toll structure encourages drivers to pass through Manhattan anyway.

                Driving through Manhattan should be expensive. We don’t want people driving through Manhattan if they have another alternative.

          • Andrew says:

            The toll on the Verrazano is $9.60 westbound and $0.00 eastbound, but I guess you can’t be bothered with the facts.

            If the tolls manage to drive out wannabe-suburbanites like yourself to make room for people who can appreciate what New York offers to those who don’t insist on driving everywhere, everyone will be better off. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Edward’s argument is hamfisted. Any toll should at a minimum:

        1) pay for the bridges
        2) keep traffic to a manageable level

        Those things probably mean a toll won’t be inherently cheap.

        However, it would be very sensible to average the toll revenue out and charge the same to cross each bridge. However, it needs to be “punitive” enough to keep traffic congestion away – so the average might best go up somewhat.

        • sharon says:

          and any transit fare should do the same.

          We can not have a double standard here.

          The mta bridge toll far exceeds the cost of operating the bridge even with the gold platted treatment those bridges get. There operating costs can be further reduced freeing up money or lowering the tolls.

          Just got back from Florida. Met so many EX New York Middle class that had enough of the TAX TAX TAX

          SPEND SPEND SPEND with out regards to proper operation and cost constraints.

          I can talk for hours and hours about all the things that could be done to drive the cost of operating NYC transit system into the ground and provide equal or better service. Walder is moving in the correct direction but we need political leaders with a set of balls to fight the union for what right for the public

          There also needs to be some changes to the public service laws to allow the mta to hire the right person for the job and not the next person who passes a test.

          • VLM says:

            Florida: The state without any income tax. The state so broke it can’t afford basic services any longer. That’s a terrible analogy. You’re even denser than all of your comments here make you out to be.

          • Bolwerk says:

            There is no double standard here – well, not on my part anyway. The bridges themselves being paid for does not mean the rest of the street system isn’t still subsidized (as I suspect it probably should be, unless you want to charge people for walking). Transit, on the other hand, has plenty of capacity to take on additional riders. Surplus from the bridges could just as well go to pay for the streets.

            When those “middle class” ex-New Yorkers move to a tax sponge state like Florida, they’re doing it to live on current New Yorkers’ (and other tax donors’) dimes. I’d say good riddance, but unfortunately we keep paying for them whether they’re here or not.

            And I wouldn’t be so quick to try to establish equivalency between modes. Paying people to drive when they don’t need to is harmful and inefficient, while paying people to take a train doesn’t particularly cause any problems except for the direct monetary cost. There is little to no slowdown in the transportation system as a whole that results.

            • BrooklynBus says:

              It is misleading to say that transit has the capacity to take on additional riders. Although that is generally a true statement, there is no additional capacity at the times people want to make their trips. So unless you only encourage transit only in the off-peak, the MTA needs to increase its services which increases it’s operating costs and its deficit.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Well, increasing costs would be what I said would happen, no?

                Still, there are few transit routes in the city – the subway system anyway – that are at capacity, even at peak times. In worse-case scenarios, I guess there are routes where new equipment would need to be procured to add capacity. Maybe there are fewer still cases where they literally can’t get anymore trains through with current operating procedures (perhaps L? 7?).

                The real problem is cost.

                • BrooklynBus says:

                  Didn’t see where you talked about increasing costs right above. Maybe you said it earlier.

                  The subway lines are not at capacity for most of the route. There are however peak points where you cannot board the first train or they are way overcrowded sometimes like on the #6 at 51st Street or maybe between 34th and 42nd Streets on other lines. The loading guidelines deal with average loads, not at peak points.

                  Anyway, it is less of a problem on the subways than on the buses. It takes a lot of new passengers to warrant an extra train, but only a relatively few to warrant an extra bus when you are talking about increasing costs.

                  • Andrew says:

                    That’s complete nonsense. The loading guidelines refer to peak load points. You of all people should know that. (I even explained it to you in gory detail in January.)

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Okay, I went back and reread our conversation from January. I think I understand now. So the question becomes what is the predetermined time that has to be averaged, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour? That makes all the difference. Incidentally, I never heard back from the MTA regarding the guidelines.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    I said, “Paying people to drive when they don’t need to is harmful and inefficient, while paying people to take a train doesn’t particularly cause any problems except for the direct monetary cost” [emp. added].

                    To elaborate: when you add a driver to the subsidized road system, you’re adding congestion, pollution, additional energy consumption, and higher risk for injury for every driver you add. When you add a transit rider to the subsidized transit system, you mostly only reduce those things per rider,* but the operating costs are still there.

                    * to a point, anyway. Once you have too many additional riders you need to add another vehicle. Besides that, maybe there is a small increase in marginal risk per rider as crowds increase.

        • BrooklynBus says:

          But the majority of the toll money goes to mass transit, not to pay for the bridges. That’s why they are so high.

          • Bolwerk says:

            I don’t know about the majority, but I’m not especially a fan of that. It’s not the atrocity against drivers some carheads like to pretend though, given the extent everyone as a whole has to pay for someone who drives. I just think it’s a bad way to finance transit, when it should be going towards keeping the city’s street system in good repair.

            • BrooklynBus says:

              We are talking only about MTA bridges and tunnels here, there never was a question that the money should go for street repair. I don’t know the exact figures, but a very small portion of the tolls go to maintaining the facilities, perhaps only a third or less, the rest goes to the MTA capital program I believe, or whatever portion Albany hasn’t stolen for the General Fund. Another problem is how the monies are distributed by the MTA. Instead of the monies appropriated by ridership, they give equal amounts to LIRR, Metro North. And the subways. Buses gets very little. So the City gets shortchanged.

              But if it weren’t for the high tolls, far fewer stations would have been rehabbed.

              • Andrew says:

                Motorists impose lots of costs on society on top of maintenance costs.

                And motorists don’t drive only on tolled bridges. You presumably drive to the bridge from your origin and then from the bridge to your destination. Those roads and streets aren’t tolled, but driving on them still imposes costs.

                Finally, as I’ve already explained to you, the distribution formula is enshrined in state law. The MTA doesn’t decide how to divvy up the funds – it’s all predetermined by formula (and the formula is not one-third each, as you claim). I agree that NYCT should get the lion’s share, but you’ll have to push for new legislation before that can happen. As for subways vs. buses, the subway system has a much larger capital burden than the bus system, so I would hope that most of the capital funding goes to the subway system.

  3. Billy G says:

    Hey, how about adding zone pricing first to the subway if the MTA is really so strapped for cash? Why should a GCT to Union Square rider have to pay the same as someone coming from The Bronx?

    How about the fact that the NYC subway system is amongst the least expensive to ride in the world? There’s a lot of room for raising those fares to be in-line with the rest of the world. The dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to.

    Stop finding unrelated things to tax and toll. Charge the users for their fair share of the actual service.

    • First, instituting East River Bridge Tolls isn’t an “unrelated thing.” Second, I didn’t, in this post, mention any of the revenue from bridge tolls going toward the MTA. That’s an entirely different discussion. Third, zone fares probably wouldn’t make much sense in New York City. Here’s why.

      Why should some bridges remain free anyway?

      • SEAN says:

        Ben, the arguement is if I don’t use it, why should I pay for it. Every time I hear a variation of that line I ask myself, do these people think they are that privilaged & are above everyone else? Because that is how it comes off.

        Sorry, I call it as I see it.

        • AlexB says:

          It should be a $8 toll on all East and Hudson River crossings south of 60th, but only from 7am – 10am (sufficiently painful to actually stop people from driving). Between 10am and 4pm, it should drop to $4, then go back up to $8 between 4pm and 7pm. From 7pm to 10pm, the toll should drop down to $4 again. Between 10pm and 7am, the toll should be $0 because there is little congestion and the cars are being much more efficient and causing little harm. On Saturdays and Sundays, the tolls should be relatively small, maybe $2 or $3 from 8am to 8pm, and similarly eliminated at night.

          Crossing the East and Hudson Rivers north of 60th (GWB and RFK), the Harlem River bridges, and crossing 60th St should be tolled similarly, but at half the rate as the East River and Hudson River crossings. That way it’s not as expensive to go from upper Manhattan to Queens or the Bronx, or from the Upper East Side to East Midtown, but you still pay the full price if you go to Midtown via the GWB or you want to go from the Bronx to Midtown via a Harlem River bridge or the RFK.

          The users of most congested highways like the Cross Bronx should also get charged for using these roads based on how far they go and at what times, but that’s a separate discussion.

          The whole point of tolls shouldn’t necessarily be to raise money. It should be to decrease congestion because it causes pollution, illness, and wear and tear on roads. Use that money to mitigate its effects by subsidizing mass transit and improve the situation for bicyclists and pedestrians.

          All toll plazas should be eliminated ASAP and be converted to camera tolling or whatever the technical name is.

          • Name says:

            $8 each way? Or round trip? Cause if it’s each way, you’re gonna get a little rebellion on your hands.

            And I don’t think charging $8 for the Lincoln Tunnel while charging $4 for the GWB would be a good idea, considering how easy it is for North Jersey drivers to switch between the two.

          • sharon says:

            I can agree to a rush hour toll but free at all other times with a state law that states that tolls can NOT be charged any other times.

            I would change the hours to 8am – 10 pm Traffic is not that bad before then .

            This would allow employers, businesses and drivers to adjust there schedules thus reducing traffic and raising revenue to pay for the system.

            I would also allow electric cars such as the volt and leaf to allow to cross for free for the next 5 years to encourage those who need to commute to commute with a less polluting way

            Once again the best revenue generating is cutting MTA costs and holding the unions legs to the fire to make the common sense work rule changes needed to provide the best service for commuters and also foster better transit planning to reduce costs and provide better service

            Ben, I study these issue’s daily everywhere I go.

            I am tired of seeing express buses riding into the city with 3-5 passengers aboard on weekends. How does that reduce pollution ? Especially from areas with near by subways.

            I am tired of riders towards the end of the line stuck with long local train service on weekends.

            As a rider on the D line in Bensonhurst, I am tired of having to transfer trains at Stillwell ave CI for a Q or F train when these lines could be run as one giant loop providing quick inter brooklyn service. It takes 14 min to drive to work but 30 min to get there by train and 1 hour by bus. Running the F and D as a loop will cut the train ride down to 15 min and not cost the MTA a rat cent more

            • Bolwerk says:

              Jesus Christ. The state should stop interfering with our home rule. Most of our problems can’t be solved because we legally aren’t allowed to solve them.

              NYC should be allowed to charge whatever fees it deems necessary, as long as its local small-R republican processes are followed.

            • Adirondacker12800 says:

              It takes 14 min to drive to work

              You work in the dead of night? There’s traffic all day even in bucolic Brooklyn.

            • Andrew says:

              It takes you 15 minutes to walk up a flight of stairs and down another?

        • Bolwerk says:

          So why do my income taxes pay for roads I don’t use? IT’S ALL ABOUT ME, AFTERALL!

      • Andrew says:

        Zone fares would make a lot of sense. As your map shows, quite a few poor people live close in and quite a few wealthy people live far out (and your map omits all of Staten Island, the wealthiest borough of all). And the working class are most likely to commute within the outer boroughs (since Manhattan is home to disproportionately many white-collar jobs); they’d benefit from the lowest fares of all. Do you really think that cities with zone-based transit systems have only poor people living close in and only wealthy people living far out? That’s simply not the case.

        I don’t see zone fares coming any time soon, both because stations aren’t set up for them and because of the inevitable political opposition. But they do make a lot of sense.

        • John Paul N. says:

          Just wanted to add re: the opposition to tolls or distance-based pricing from the outskirts of the city: if a Far Rockaway councilman chastises McDonald’s for the prhase “To not falling asleep and ending up in Far Rockaway”, he will certainly turn his nose up on the Manhattan charges.

        • Bolwerk says:

          The problem is the converse is true too. Pretty poor people live in places that middle the the distance between termini and Manhattan, such as Morrisania or Bed Stuy, or exist on the fringes of the subway system, like East New York or Jamaica.

          Also, Staten Island is probably the most economically homogenous borough of all, but only the wealthiest based on whatever measure you choose to cherry pick – I’m guessing median household income? (In all fairness, any such measure is cherry picked, at least in part).

          • ajedrez says:

            It has the lowest poverty rate and highest median household income, but the per capita income is highest in Manhattan.

          • Andrew says:

            Poor people live close in, far out, and in between. Wealthy people also live close in, far out, and in between. If you want to make sure that poor people aren’t priced out of transportation, give them vouchers based on need. But there’s no reason that a poor person who takes the relatively short trip from Harlem to Midtown, or who rides between two stops in Brooklyn, should be subsidizing express buses from Staten Island.

            Yes, median household income, which I think is a fairly standard measure of these things. But whatever measure you use, Staten Island – the least accessible borough to the CBD by transit – is far from the poorest borough.

            • Bolwerk says:

              I don’t really think it’s that realistic to think that some fares aren’t going to subsidizing others. If you want to make it realistic, IMHO distance would work a lot better than zones in NYC.

              Median household income isn’t very helpful without controlling for household sizes – which may be larger in SI than in the other borough. I generally am skeptical/critical of any economic definition of affluence and poverty, particularly ones that ignore health and social criteria (e.g., nutrition, antisocial behavior, etc.). I can buy SI could be the most “affluent” by such a standard, but I was just wondering what you meant.

              • Andrew says:

                Zones are typically a rough approximation to distance. So either way is OK with me.

                However, fares that don’t come anywhere near the peak load point need to be adjusted sharply downward, since it’s service through the peak load point that’s most expensive – service frequency is determined based on loads at the peak load point. And fares outside of rush hours should also be lower, since capital costs are based on providing adequate capacity for the peak hour.

                No measure of affluence is perfect – and I’d be somewhat surprised if households are larger in SI than elsewhere. Yes, the other boroughs have more singles, but their families are probably larger. (And Manhattan, at least, has the phenomenon of singles living in shared apartments, even if they’re not families.)

                • Bolwerk says:

                  I don’t see a sensible way to zone it. I’m not strictly opposed to changing the fare model, though I don’t see it happening politically. A bigger concern for me would be operating cost control.

                  I don’t really have time to look into this today, but my take: typical roommate situations probably involve 2 people, which I think would constitute a household. Given the prevalence of single-family homes on SI, I would think a typical minimum occupancy for such places would be 3 (two parents, or a parent + SO, plus a child). Household sizes are probably much larger than in Manhattan or the inner parts of Queens and Brooklyn. I don’t know if strange household sizes in The Bronx and Queens overwhelm SI or not off the top of my head.

                  • Andrew says:

                    It’s not going to happen in my lifetime. Politics, as you say. But that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss it, and it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. (Most things that politicians oppose make sense.)

                    When I lived in a shared apartment in Manhattan (years ago), there were three of us, and I had plenty of friends who lived in four-person apartments.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I lived in an eight-person apartment once,* but more typical is probably 1-2 people per bedroom and there are a lot of studios, one-, and two-bedrooms in the four boroughs on the Subway network.

                      * Practically speaking, there were usually some unofficial transients about too.

      • BrooklynBus says:

        Theoretically bridges are just extensions of streets. That was the original argument. Might not hold any longer. Moses charged tolls on his bridges because they connected or were supposed to connect highways to highways not streets to streets.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Nice in theory, but if that’s so, they should be generally low-traffic and have high rates of pedestrian use – like streets. Instead, they’re treated like autoways and are entirely hostile to other forms of traffic.

          • BrooklynBus says:

            The length of most bridges makes high pedestrian usage unattractive. Most do have walkways and some allow bikes. I dont follow though why there should be generally low traffic on the bridges when the streets around them are used heavily.

            • Bolwerk says:

              My point is that streets have uses besides auto traffic, which the bridges largely do not (the odd subway line or underutilized walkway excepted).

              I don’t see why there should be high volumes of traffic on anything though. That’s the biggest planning mistake of the 20th century.

              • BrooklynBus says:

                The thing is that the street system was laid out well before the 20th century, before cars were prevalent. Had cars been here first, everything would have been laid out differently. The grid system would have looked entirely different. Just look at how streets are laid out in Florida. Large roads are regularly spaced every mile apart. That’s how you build for cars. In NYC, wide roads were an afterthought. And if it weren’t for Robert Moses who had the foresight to widen roads in the 1920s like Woodhaven Blvd when there still wasn’t that much traffic or development, the streets would even be more congested today.

                When the street system was designed in the 1800s, all the planners thought of was to have a wider street every ten blocks or so on the cross streets. On the avenues, all the sidewalks had to be narrowed to accommodate extra lanes of traffic which were not needed at the original time of design.

                The current administration feels that wherever you have a street with two lanes of traffic in one direction, one of them should be a bike lane. They have unnecessarily eliminated lanes of traffic in some areas causing even more street. congestion but I don’t want to get in that discussion. Didn’t the MTA complain that the Times Square plaza slowed their buses by ten minutes? Still I’m not saying it was a bad idea. I’m only unhappy because I don’t believe it was evaluated fairly to determine if it was a success or not.

                • Mobert Roses says:

                  And if it weren’t for Robert Moses who had the foresight to widen roads in the 1920s like Woodhaven Blvd when there still wasn’t that much traffic or development, the streets would even be more congested today.

                  Oh, yeah. Thank God for Robert Moses who had the foresight to ruin New York while siphoning money away from transit expansion plans like the Second System or a direct rail link to JFK. Wherever we’d be without Moses, it wouldn’t be “eve more congested today” because the city would have built real and badly needed subway lines including some into your neighborhood.

                  I swear you’re just here to troll us all sometimes.

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    Yes, Robert Moses did some horrible things and he was still using 1930’s planning philosophies in the 1960s still thinking that cars are primarily used for recreation and not seeing the worthiness of a mass transit alternative.

                    However, although he hindered the building of transit, there is absolutely no proof that if he’d never been born, the Second System or other subway extensions would have ever been built that would have eased congestion. There were just too many other factors, the Depression, World War II, the organized killing of trolley lines, etc.

                    Robert Moses diverted more money away from schools and hospitals then he did from transit in order to build his highways and parks. Regarding Parks, he did some very good work there. Before him, people in the tenements had no place to escape for some fesh air because there were virtually no local parks or playgrounds other than Central and Prospect Parks. I think he built something like 200 or 300 parks in a single year! Who else did anything like that? Bulding anything today takes forever. If he were still in power today, the World Trade Center would have been replaced in five years.

                    The pity is that why there wasn’t someone else at the time with his skills advocating for mass transit.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  Bleh. We have more traffic precisely because the roads were widened and highways were built. Robert Moses may have been an impressive public works builder, but the public works he built simply haven’t done us many favors. I have yet to see anyone pinpoint any example of additional congestion created by the creation of a bike lane or other traffic calming techniques.

                  What has happened: in some cases people have to drive more slowly, but that’s a good thing because it means fewer people killed. I guess that could affect buses. Or a bus just has to travel a little further at the same speed.

                  Either way, more road capacity -> less congestion has never been shown to be anything but a fantasy, and was pretty well demonstrated definitively false by that lackluster Carmageddon this past weekend. I can’t see why you’re hanging on to such a ridiculous 1950s planning ideal.

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    Not sure who you are replying to but it sounds like you are talking to me so I will respond.

                    Some of the public works Moses built did us a lot of favors. Do you think we would be better off if the East River Drive had traffic lights like West Street? Or how about a boulevard with traffic lights instead of the LIE? Would traffic be any less? It would probably be the same because there would have been less development in Long Island.

                    Yes, the building of more highways cause additional traffic. I recognize that so I don’t know why you say I have a 1950s planning philosophy. (That’s quite different from adding a lane to remove bottlenecks which reduces congestion.) Just because I am not in favor of removing traffic lanes for bike lanes?

                    That would make sense only if there were a viable mass transit option for drivers to switch to which is not the case most of the time. Because if it were there, they wouldn’t be driving in the first place. That is something you aren’t recognizing.

                    I’m also not saying that all plazas and traffic calming and bike lanes are bad. However, I don’t like the way the City is pushing them on us without fair evaluations, so we can’t tell if they are good ideas or not.

                    I don’t see what “Carmageddon” has to do with anything. People were asked to cooperate by not driving for a weekend and they did which was not expected so it didn’t materialize.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I really don’t have a lot of confidence in the ability of highways in urban areas to operate efficiently. So, yes, I suspect things would work a lot better without them. Traditional, mono-type streets handle automobile traffic quite well in much of the world. Exiting and entering the FDR seems like it just causes clusterfucks that wouldn’t exist without the FDR. The FDR is a daily traffic jam that ruins what could be a fun part of the city for recreation so a few hundred thousand suburbanites can use Manhattan as a doormat every day.

        • Alon Levy says:

          Another way to think about it is that all driving should be priced, but for reasons of convenience and collection costs it’s easiest to just toll major chokepoints.

        • Andrew says:

          “Theoretically”? The “extensions of streets” thing is a populist soundbite invented by politicians. It was not “the original argument.”

          From a transportation perspective, streets provide both mobility and accessibility, with a focus on most urban streets on accessibility. A bridge provides no accessibility function whatsoever, since there are no destinations on the bridge itself – bridges only provide mobility. And the East River is wide enough that its bridges essentially only provide mobility to motorists and cyclists, since pedestrians usually duck into the subway when they’re traveling such distances.

          Those destinations on most streets, incidentally, pay property taxes, which, in the absence of proper user fees, are used in part to pay for the streets they abut. The East River doesn’t pay property taxes.

          And to make matters worse, a bridge has much higher maintenance costs, per mile, than a street.

          So, no, I’m afraid that the East River bridges are not extensions of streets. They are nothing like streets. They are bridges.

          Moses charged tolls on his bridges because he needed to pay for them somehow. And Moses built the highways to make it easier for drivers to reach his bridges. You have cause and effect reversed.

          • BrooklynBus says:

            Where is your source that says the extensions of streets theory is a soundbite invented by politicians? That was what I was told by my transportation professor at Columbia University when I studied Urban Planning. I just didn’t make it up.

            “Moses charged tolls on his bridges because he needed to pay for them somehow. And Moses built the highways to make it easier for drivers to reach his bridges.”

            Yes the tolls were used to pay for the bridges but that doesn’t explain the free bridges. The original concept of tolls is that they would be abolished after the bridges were paid off, but Moses needed a reason to justify keeping the Authority around so he claimed he needed the tolls for maintenance which was supposed to be paid for by other sources like the gas tax.

            If Moses built his highways to make it easier to get to his bridges, what was the purpose of building bridges in the first place? It was to get people places not just to generate revenue? The highways and bridges worked together. You couldn’t have one without the other.

            • Bolwerk says:

              I remember that famously being something along the lines of what Gaynor said. To paraphrase, why toll the East River when we don’t toll Broadway?

              I can buy that a theory is purported to see bridges in urban settings as extensions of streets. I can even buy it in practice, in some cases. London Bridge? Many in Paris? It starts seeming kind of difficult in NYC, given that the bridges over the East River generally aren’t treated as any street is.

              If Moses built his highways to make it easier to get to his bridges, what was the purpose of building bridges in the first place? It was to get people places not just to generate revenue? The highways and bridges worked together. You couldn’t have one without the other.

              Caro’s thesis was that Moses was a power-hungry fcuk who coveted more power. And he definitely sounded like a complex egomaniac.

    • Alon Levy says:

      How about the fact that the NYC subway system is amongst the least expensive to ride in the world?

      How about not using zombie myths as if they were facts?

      Reality is that New York’s transit fares cost more than those in most European cities (London is the most expensive, followed by Munich and Stockholm), even ones with zone pricing, unless one travels to the outermost edges of the system; the equivalent of the zone pricing in Madrid or Munich would be to leave NYCT as one zone except for the lines in the Rockaways.

    • JAzumah says:

      Zoned subway fares are illegal as per state law. It was written in when the MTA was created that they would not do zoned fares. Now, if you want to reintroduce fares for transfers between buses and subways, I could go for that. Make the subway $2.00 and the buses $1.50 and the trains would come close to breaking even.

  4. John-2 says:

    The one thing before tolling the East River bridges that has to be done is to make sure the East River mass transit tunnels can handle the additional passenger load.

    Toll the bridges at the same rates as the Triboro/RFK, the Queens Midtown and the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel and you will cause people to switch to mass transit, but then the next question is can you stuff more people onto the subway and LIRR lines getting into the city? The Rutgers and 63rd Street tunnels have extra space, but the feeder lines on both side of the river from 63rd Street are jammed, and the Rutgers tunnel only has spare capacity from Brooklyn up to Second Avenue, unless you reroute the M back down Nassau Street (which then jams up the L even more and defeats the whole purpose of the added Rutgers service).

    So what the city really would have to do is find a toll level that gets money from drivers currently avoiding the toll crossings, but doesn’t get so high that you chase too many onto mass transit lines that are already strained to capacity.

  5. Bill Reese says:

    Is Transit’s pilot project on the Henry Hudson bridge a dry run for how to do East River Bridge tolling if/when it’s implemented?

    • JAzumah says:

      Yes. The idea is to eliminate the cash toll plaza. We will see East River bridge tolls, but the transit community will find out that it is a bait and switch. Transit will not get any more money than before, but the bridge tolls will allow the fares to be increased substantially.

  6. Peter says:

    A quick scan of the comments shows that of those commenting, tolls varying by time and location are considered do-able. To take it another step, and negate the “Why should I have to pay a toll just to drive to another neighborhood” argument (despite that millions pay to ride croweded trains across the same rivers), EVERY bridge should be tolled by EZPass but have ONE free lane. at 4 AM, everyone would use the free lane. At 8:30 AM, anyone could wait 40 minutes to save a few bucks. Maybe each crossing should vary from free to $20. Pay your money & take your choice. We’d see Bentleys in the Free lane, and Plymouths paying $12.00.
    And how much longer will it be before state-of-the art GPS systems will show where traffic is backed up 10 miles ahead, negating negative impacts of bridgeshopping, and allowing DOT to vary tolls in real time, shifting traffic to avoid jams while providing such info on roadside displays?

    • Edward says:

      Plymouths? Man, I haven’t seen a Plymouth in about 2 years. Doubt they’d be going over the BB at $20 a pop…

  7. BrooklynBus says:

    Any wonder why more people are driving into Manhattan when the MTA is reducing peak subway service in the summer to make sure the trains are as crowded as can be?

    • Again, more people aren’t driving into Manhattan. They’re just redistributing the traffic from tolled crossings to free ones. The numbers show, if anything, a slight net loss in people who stopped driving because the tolls went up, and they didn’t want to compete with surface congestion to take free bridges.

  8. Chris says:

    When I lived in Woodside, coming home from work in Connecticut, I took the Queensboro instead of the Whitestone; it was a negligibly longer drive (5 to 10 minutes), but saved me about $150 every month. It’s insane the incentives were such that I benefited driving into Manhattan, when I had no other good reason to.

    What I would really like to see are much cheaper tolls on the bridges that connect areas that are not well-connected by public transportation and not particularly heavily used (at least at reverse peak: Whitestone, Triborough, Throgs Neck), then toll the heck out of the lower East River crossings that actually have heavy demand and plenty of commuting options.

    (Actually, what I’d really like to see is me getting rid of the car altogether, but that’s not happening so long as I still work somewhere that takes 2 hours to get to by train and bus.)

  9. Bolwerk says:

    Anti-toll complainers are astounding. Tolls save you money if your time is worth anywhere close to the wage necessary to own a car in NYC. If you’re Very Important™, as most SUV-owning wannabe John Galts fancy themselves, and own a business that requires mobility, in many cases tolls would save you even more money by letting you service customers or receive from suppliers more efficiently. And there’s also at least the possibility that time-sensitive goods (milk, produce?) would have longer shelf lives and less loss due to spoilage, benefiting plebes; or that trucks* saving fuel and time means lower shipping costs. And hell, if you waste 2 gallons of gas sitting in traffic you’ve already spent more than $7 toll and wasted your own time at whatever price you value that time.

    One can only conclude that people who don’t like tolls are either quantitatively illiterate, or they actually take pleasure in wasting more of their own money and time to make sure the road system cannot be adequately maintained.

    * for those not aware, trucks are those really big vehicles carrying goods or transporting waste away. They tend to use several times more fuel than even a tacky Escalade, so wasted fuel is even a bigger financial loss.

    • JAzumah says:

      Simplistic reasoning.

      There is no question that toll roadsand bridges are good as long as the money is reinvested in those roads. They save a substantial amount of time and money. The problem appears when the profit is diverted to so many places that the infrastructure generating the profit is neglected. Have we forgotten that subways used to gush cash?

      East River tolls are designed as a BUDGETARY solution. The city will eliminate most of its operating subsidies for the MTA as an condition of transferring the bridges to them. The MTA will have to spend tons to start rebuilding the bridges and tons more on transit gaps left by the city and state. Any advance beyond reduced traffic because of high tolls is not a given.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Of course it’s simplistic. Most obvious things are.

        But, subways still gush cash. I’m not very happy with how the subway is financed, and I’m certainly no supporter of the status quo regarding labor and contracting, or how much debt we pull out to pay for it, and many other things. The key difference with the subway and to a lesser extent other transit is at least, as a society, are fairly open with how it’s financed.* OTOH, otherwise reasonable people suddenly go apeshit when presented with the facts of how expensive the road system is, and how with all the time and money they invest in their cars, the users themselves are not even coming close to paying for the system.

        * It’s notable that city haters and more irrational MTA detractors have to bend backwards to pretend that we aren’t fairly honest with how the MTA works. Hence these myths about two sets of books.

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