Home MTA Economics Ravitch: Verrazano toll vote a breach of ‘fiduciary responsibility’

Ravitch: Verrazano toll vote a breach of ‘fiduciary responsibility’

by Benjamin Kabak

Throughout the course of his career, Richard Ravitch has been something of a jack-of-all-trades in New York and an on-again, off-again savior for transit. He’s served as the Lieutenant Government of New York, and he authored a plan to revive the MTA’s finances during the depths of the agency’s financial crisis. He also served as the authority’s head during the start of its revival in the early 1980s. When he talks, New Yorkers generally listen.

On Wednesday, Ravitch unexpectedly took the microphone during the MTA’s Board meeting, and he had some strident words on the morning of a controversial vote. As you may recall, a few weeks ago, out of the blue, Gov. Cuomo announced a rollback of the Verrazano Bridge toll. In a move that would cost the MTA $14 million in dedicated revenue, Cuomo forked over a discount on the toll. Although the state will reimburse $7 million, this move comes without any corresponding aspects of Sam Schwartz’s traffic plan, a move to compensate transit riders or a nod to the MTA’s labor or economic situation.

Thus, when Ravitch took the microphone Wednesday morning, he did not mince words. Noting first that New York law requires MTA Board members to represent the MTA first, he leveled serious charges toward board members. “The law made it very clear that you, as members of the board of a public authority, have as your fiduciary responsibility an obligation to the mission of this authority,” he said. “That is your overriding obligation.”

Even though Gov. Cuomo, who ostensibly can control the board through a decent number of votes, wanted the toll plan, Ravitch believed it shouldn’t have made it past the vote, and he pointed to all the right things. “You are in the midst of two labor negotiations in which you are undoubtedly asserting, and properly so, the financial constraints that make it impossible for you to meet the demands of the labor unions. That argument is inconsistent with voluntarily reducing the revenues of this authority,” he said.

In the face of Ravitch’s words, the MTA Board still approved the toll decrease, but it was a divisive vote. Ted Mann, covering his last MTA Board meeting while on the Wall Street Journal’s transit beat, covered the turmoil:

One board member, former New York City budget director Mark Page, abstained from the vote, explaining that he didn’t believe the toll rebates were “an MTA initiative,” and hadn’t been subjected to the authority’s usual decision-making processes. “I don’t believe if the question were being asked solely of the MTA and this board that we’d be taking this action ourselves with our resources at this moment,” Mr. Page said…

But that position wasn’t embraced by the board, even as members prepared to vote in favor of the plan. “Why do lower bus fares not have an equal claim on the MTA’s finances?” member Norman Brown asked, noting that the city also provides Staten Island Ferry service, free of charge. “I live in a little place called Brooklyn,” he said. “We’re the ones that pay the toll that you’re always citing as a horrible toll.”

The six-dollar residential discount rate is “already a substantial” discount, Mr. Brown said. “Do the math.” Another board member, Jeff Kay, said the MTA should remind state officials later in the year, as the authority lobbies for financial support for its operating and capital budgets in Albany, that the authority has acceded to demands from the legislature about how it levies tolls. “I really do hope they’re taking ownership of our funding decisions,” Mr. Kay said, adding ”Guys, we’re doing what you asked us to do.”

Staten Island representatives were quick to defend the measure. “This has gone though a lot of permutation, and overcome many obstacles in the last two years to get this done,” Allen Cappelli said. “We eliminated the obstacles, got Albany on board. This was well-discussed and well thought out, and we’ve finally come to this day. I feel like doing the dance of joy.”

It’s not an easy issue. As I noted to Ted Mann on Twitter earlier in the day, while the rest of the MTA region got nothing in the vote, we do enjoy one-seat train service into Manhattan on a regular schedule. Staten Island’s been waiting 80 years for that, and such a plan isn’t on the horizon. But Cuomo’s giveaway was just that, and everyone else is going to pay as the various interest groups angling for a piece of the MTA’s pie load up for a fight.

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Keith Williams February 27, 2014 - 12:39 am

“As I noted to Ted Mann on Twitter earlier in the day, while the rest of the MTA region got nothing in the vote, we do enjoy one-seat train service into Manhattan on a regular schedule.”

You lost me here – could you explain? It’s not as if Staten Islanders once had one-seat service to Manhattan and subsequently had it taken away. (I assume you mean subway service, since they do have about 20 express buses from which to choose.)

Yes, Staten Island is part of the city, but I don’t see why I should be subsidizing someone else’s decision to live there, especially when it hurts me in multiple ways (less money for the MTA, externalities of driving).

Oh, right, votes.

Larry Littlefield February 27, 2014 - 7:12 am

The general principal is Staten Island doesn’t pay for things. The ferry is free. The SIR is free unless you board or exit at one of two stations. The buses cover far less of their cost than those in any other borough. And 1-4 family houses pay vastly lower property taxes relative to property values than other kinds of housing, and commercial property. Although the latter deal benefits gentrified areas of Brooklyn more than other areas of the city.

Nathanael March 4, 2014 - 1:23 pm

Yes. The general deal is that Staten Island freeloads.

You can actually spot freeloading areas really easily. They vote Republican, since it’s the Party Of The Free Lunch. See also Nassau County.

John-2 February 27, 2014 - 12:46 am

The obvious answer to the kerfuffle would be to turn the free bridges over to the MTA, put in E-Z Pass sensors and license plate camera toll enforcement, and reconfigure the various toll levels on MTA bridges and tunnels to better balance out who pays what in their commutes, while recapturing the lost $7-$14 million.

That would also be a step towards congestion pricing, but since this is an election year for officials in Albany, there’s no way any of this is happening (while in contrast, the Verrazano toll reduction is happening because this is an election year for officials in Albany).

Brandon February 27, 2014 - 1:50 am

Thats pretty much the Sam Schwartz plan. Lower the currently tolled bridged (especially the Verrazano) a bit, and make up for it (hopefully a bit more) with tolls on the East River bridges.

I happen to really like this plan. Even as someone who doesnt drive, i tend to think the bridge tolls are a bit high as is. Id love to see a balancing that tolls every bridge at a decent rate.

afk February 27, 2014 - 12:49 am

How can you claim the rest of the region has one-seat train service into Manhattan? Many don’t live near subways or commuter rail outside of SI.

JMB February 27, 2014 - 9:49 am

Seriously. I live off of a train line and its a 3 “seat” ride into Manhattan every workday (i used quotes because i never actually get a seat).

Benjamin Kabak February 27, 2014 - 10:00 am

As I said in the tweet, I was playing devil’s advocate and taking a position with which I don’t agree. The vast majority of the rest of the city can lay claim to some sort of direct link to Manhattan via rail which Staten Island doesn’t have. That said, they haven’t been too aggressive in fighting for it, and there are numerous other problems with Cuomo’s half-baked plan that I’ve discussed in depth in the past.

Larry Littlefield February 27, 2014 - 7:10 am

“The law made it very clear that you, as members of the board of a public authority, have as your fiduciary responsibility an obligation to the mission of this authority,” he said. “That is your overriding obligation.”

It’s $7 million. How many $billions in breaches of fiduciary responsibility have members of the MTA Board and the state legislature voted for over the years? So they are starting to feel guilty.

Well, they are guilty. Some of these people have been there since all the debt-ridden capital plans and all the retroactive pension increases.

I don’t know what the benefit of being on the MTA Board is that folks will sell their souls to have the pols put them on it, and keep them on it. Had I been there, you would have heard similar language 15 years ago.

sonicboy678 February 27, 2014 - 7:51 pm

The MTA has problems across the board (not just the MTA Board, but some passengers, the government, the unions, etc.). These problems aren’t exactly new, just worsened.

nb8 February 27, 2014 - 8:56 am

*cough cough* Rockland and Orange Counties also lack a one-seat ride into Manhattan. What special deal do they get?

Bad enough Giuliani kept showering the “blessed island” with funding during his tenure, does Cuomo really need to continue that tradition?

SEAN February 27, 2014 - 12:24 pm

*cough cough* Rockland and Orange Counties also lack a one-seat ride into Manhattan. What special deal do they get?

The right to choose to commute to NYC or not.

Michael February 27, 2014 - 1:45 pm

Quoted Text:

Bad enough Giuliani kept showering the “blessed island” with funding during his tenure, does Cuomo really need to continue that tradition?


What made the difference between Rudy G. running for office against David Dinkins – the first time? The various changes to the Board Of Estimate, the City Council, and debates about secession, etc. did not help the situation.

What made the difference between Rudy G. running for office against David Dinkins – the second time, and winning office?

Staten Island – it’s votes put Rudy G. in office! Check the vote totals!

You can say whatever you want about Rudy G, or Staten Island, or its problems and issues. Political folk know who put them in office, and how to respond. Do you really think first Republican mayor in decades is going to turn a deaf ear to the only Republican borough in the city?

Regardless of Rudy G.’s policies and practices – there were several issues on Staten Island that needed attention – the dump, the tolls, the transit, etc. He worked on those issues! For those of us – who were here when the dump was open and active – the smell was not in any way, shape or form – good! What community accepts 14,000 tons daily of the entire city’s trash! Rudy closed it, while the liberal folk hemmed, hawed, and diddled! Rudy closed the dump! Rudy got the #6 train running at night – when all there was was #4 as sole east-side midnight hours local! Rudy enacted the “one-city one fare” program, when many of us on Staten Island had to pay for the bus, the ferry, and the subway – all just to get to work in the morning, and then back home. The tolls for drivers were another issue! Rudy also had policies and practices that I did not like very much – policing & crime, shooting innocent Black men, etc. I never voted for the man, and I don’t like him, but Rudy did do some good things on and for Staten Island!

So go ahead, say whatever you want about Rudy G!

Nathanael March 4, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Arguably the discounts to Staten Island made more sense when Fresh Kills was operating.

Ralfff February 27, 2014 - 2:15 pm

They get to not pay New York City income taxes.

Roxie February 27, 2014 - 9:59 am

The edgy teenager who just learned about Republicans in me still wants to just turn SI over to New Jersey.

…Incidentally, so does the rest of me.

Anon February 27, 2014 - 10:31 am

Staten Island’s been waiting 80 years for that, and such a plan isn’t on the horizon

Despite their constant whining, such a plan would be roundly rejected by Staten Islanders if it was proposed. Such a plan would mean the end of the bridge discount, potential taxes levied, construction nuisances and the need for upzoning around any line or station.

Larry Littlefield February 27, 2014 - 11:24 am

Heck, they shot down a ferry from Great Kills without construction OR upzonings.

Michael February 27, 2014 - 1:56 pm

Let’s see, a ferry at Great Kills – in the middle of a park, in the middle of “NOWHERE”! without any nearby bus or train service, requiring a long walk in all kinds of bad weather. That does not connect to useful transit at the end other. That does have a time advantage in travel. What’s not to like? (Yes, this sarcasm!)


Ed February 27, 2014 - 4:27 pm

Not at all

Michael February 27, 2014 - 4:48 pm

That does have a time advantage in travel.

I meant:

That does NOT have a time advantage in travel.

Ed March 1, 2014 - 7:20 am

Still wrong again

Bolwerk February 27, 2014 - 11:40 am

I’m not so sure. I think it would be embraced. What would be rejected would be any changes in land use. Since it takes a decade to plan and build such a subway extension, I’d say plan it and build it and at the same time change land use rules in a way that take effect in 20 or 30 years. As the changes aren’t imminent, it just exploits the same psychology as climate change denialism.

EgoTripExpress February 27, 2014 - 1:42 pm

I’m not so sure. I think it would be embraced.

That’s the oddball thing about SI. When the ‘7-train to Secaucus’ was floated and then SI pols made demands, I was taken aback by the reactions. Comments on Jersey news sites from locals went from wistful to cathartic; they loved this idea and couldn’t wait for it to happen. But in SI, the idea of their own subway, initially brought out supporters, but then suddenly all these nimbys started popping up talking about ‘car-less undesirables’ and hipsters ruining their suburban lifestyle.

It almost seems that nowadays Hudson County, NJ aspires to have a more NYC lifestyle and connection, while in SI there’s still a xenophobic sentiment among some vocal residents.

Bolwerk February 27, 2014 - 1:55 pm

The entitled motorist subnormals that pop up on tabloid sites refer to themselves as “Real New Yorkers.” I doubt they’re even a majority, but I bet there is a shitload of them on SI. Real New Yorkers don’t deign to use trains, you see.

I guess once a subway goes from theoretical to actual, resistance will increase wherever the landing is.

Chet February 27, 2014 - 2:02 pm

As a Staten Island, I can say that view really isn’t true.

First, if you’re basing your view point on comment on silive.com, the website of our local newspaper, forget it. Those commenters could be handed a chauffeured limo with their own private lane to ride in and they’d still complain.

Overwhelming, we would LOVE a subway connection to Manhattan. The idea of an eight minute ride from St George to the Battery is almost too good to imagine. People would most certainly also want zoning to protect the basic look and feel of the current neighborhood.

This hasn’t been fought for, I believe, because everyone knows the cost is astronomical. Look, a cross harbor freight line would take an immense amount of trucks of NYC roads, but since it was proposed 90 years ago, the Port Authority created to build it (lol!!), nothing ever happened. That freight line would do more for traffic and pollution than a subway line for 75,000 or so Staten Islander that would use it, yet no one is coming up with $10 billion to build it.

It took years just to get the ferry to operate on a 30 minute schedule overnight, it would probably take centuries to get a subway across the harbor.

Ralfff February 27, 2014 - 2:16 pm


dan February 27, 2014 - 4:18 pm

And how well would SIers respond to a subway that went through Brooklyn? With the elimination of the free ferry ride. And the end of the toll discount. Toss those two and you might bring in some 50-100 million a year. Add in a small real estate transfer tax near the rail line to Brooklyn to capture the growth in property values and you could pay for a good chunk of bringing a subway to SI.

johndmuller February 27, 2014 - 6:17 pm

Yeah, what’s not to like about the non-stop harbor tunnel (aside from the influx of ****’s); the truer test of whether the people of SI want the subway is the Brooklyn route.

Personally, I’d say go ahead and build the Brooklyn connection. I doubt it would cost more than the 7 line extension (perhaps even less), which apparently the city could afford to pay for itself. Given that SI is seemingly a political patronage magnet, the pols in Albany and Washington (and maybe even in Trenton) would be falling all over each other to help pay for it. Even if it doesn’t save much time, the subway would be an improvement in lousy weather and whatnot.

I don’t begrudge the free ferry after a subway linkup, although I hope that people pay at least once for the SIR/ferry/subway combine. It wouldn’t hurt to figure a way to collect something from joy-riders and tourists also (perhaps have half the ferries require payment, but also be faster and with amenities).

I don’t know what the right amount of subsidy on the bridge is; some is certainly reasonable, and perhaps should include something for Brooklyn residents as well.

The trouble with this one is the blatant in-your-face style and obvious pandering that went with it. Glad to see that someone stood up to it and while he was at it showed up the vast majority of the board for what they are.

Michael February 27, 2014 - 11:32 pm

Quoted Text:

“I don’t begrudge the free ferry after a subway linkup, although I hope that people pay at least once for the SIR/ferry/subway combine.”

Unless one is hopping over the turn-styles (which is not a good idea) riders who take the subway, AND the ferry, AND the SIR – are PAYING THEIR FARES!

That has been the case, from day 1. Before 1997, the subway and the SIR were separate fares, meaning those riders paid TWICE. Due to the Gold MetroCard, and Mayor Rudy G. declaring the Staten Island Ferry to be free in 1997 – riding the subway and the SIR — is a paid fare, and a transfer. Even though the ferry ride in the middle is free, the subway and SIR are paid fares.

— I just have to say it!

The whole myth-making about the Tompkinsville SIR station has just got to stop!

The whole myth-making about the Tompkinsville SIR station never ever taken into consideration that the in the morning and evening rush hours, all of the SIR express trains never stopped at Tompkinsville – in either direction! Anyone who could read the SIR train schedule (before the new entrance to the Tompkinsville Station opened) would realize one very important fact. In the morning rush hours less than half of the local trains stopped at Tompkinsville. A local train only stopped there about once every 30 minutes during the AM rush hours, the usual infrequent level of service. While both local and express trains by-passed the station. During the AM rush hours, all of the other local stations had a higher level of service, even by SIR standards. While at the same time during the rush hours, dozens of buses both to and from the ferry terminal are running. So the folks who actually have to be someplace on time, would never choose this kind of operation.

Only an extremely small amount of persons that could a) ever get off at that station due to the infrequent number of trains that stopped there, b) walk quickly enough to the St. George Ferry Terminal AND to not catch the ferry that they hoped to catch, or c) catch a later ferry (at 15 min, 20 minutes, or 60 minutes apart, and d) worked within walking distance of the Whitehall Ferry terminal!

Needless to say, the evening SIR schedule was not wonderfully conducive either. Tompkinsville received infrequent local service, where again all express trains and most local trains by-passed it. Plus the walk from St. George to Tompkinsville after a long day at work. A method only useful for those who have plenty of time to waste.

As other folks on this forum have noted, that there are extremely few Staten Islanders that live within walking distance of the Ferry Terminal, and also work within walking of the Whitehall Terminal. Those are the only folks that would truly get FREE rides. Meaning that those kinds of folks ARE NOT THE MAJORITY! And they never were the majority of work commuters to/from Staten Island.

On weekend mornings the ferries now run every 30 minutes, they used to run every 60 minutes! Now just who to going to take a chance and miss their boat? To have to wait for the next ferry (30 minutes to an hour later) just to save a subway token? During the other times of the day or night – the infrequent amount of ferry, bus, and SIR service on Staten Island increases the chances of missing a connection. Missing your connections is bad enough! Just how often can a person arrive at work late – just to save a token?

Then add in what a lot of daily ferry riders know – often there are cycles where the ferries are loading 5-10 minutes before their scheduled leaving time. And they are pulling up the ramps, with the boat leaving the terminal exactly on the clock! Right now these days, the boats are leaving on time! No waiting. Meaning no time for walking between Tompkinsville and St. George just to save a token, as well as to get to work on time.

There have been plenty of times over the years when it is exactly O’clock, or ’30 minutes after, the already loaded boat is pulling out of docks, just as MTA buses are pulling into the terminal. As the people are running down the bus ramps, only to meet a quiet empty waiting room. There have been plenty of times when SIR riders have missed the ferries, also. We will not even talk about the times when the subways screws up, and riders are missing the ferry, I could but I won’t.

Huge, huge numbers of SIR riders use unlimited Metro-Cards, because there are only 3 places on the whole of Staten Island that have Metro-Card machines! There is simply no cost or time advantage getting off the train at Tompskinsville, to walk to the terminal for a ferry!

The whole myth-making about the Tompkinsville SIR station has just got to stop! Those who really understood the issues knew it was a crock of horse manure. However, once a myth is borne, it takes a whole lot of work to kill it. Or about $7 million dollars to get rid of the possibility, even for the extremely small numbers of folk that could ever have taken advantage of the idea. But this is an article that is supposed to be about “fiduciary responsibility”.


Ed March 1, 2014 - 7:18 am

Hell no It will not work at all

sonicboy678 March 1, 2014 - 9:39 pm

Yet only the northernmost stations have turnstiles. What’s to say no one will get off two stops prior to St. George and walk it the rest of the way (if the conditions are right)? You might as well modify every station so turnstiles exist. Maybe that will help draw more attention to SI. (Fallacy? Yes. Probability of that actually working? Slim, but exists.)

Ralfff March 2, 2014 - 1:20 pm

Indeed, this is what happened with the Tompkinsville stop. People were getting off at it to avoid paying at St. George when only that stop had a fare. But Stapleton is a much longer walk, probably no one will do that.

That said I support turnstiles at every station. Also, it’s worth noting that there is a special extra transfer system in effect for bus-SIR-lower Manhattan rides: http://web.mta.info/nyct/sir/sirfare.htm so people taking a bus to the SIR DO NOT have an incentive to try to beat the fare in this way.

Bolwerk March 2, 2014 - 5:29 pm

They could just take a page from the SBS playbook and go with POP.

Do SIRT stops have MetroCard TVMs, or do you need to wait until you get to St. George to buy a MetroCard?

sonicboy678 February 27, 2014 - 7:57 pm

How about a direct connection to Manhattan and a second, auxiliary connection via Brooklyn?

Michael February 27, 2014 - 2:25 pm

There are online trolls for almost every subject-manner.

In the days of computer modem-based bulletin boards, there were always discussions in the transit forums from the trolls, about “LOOT-rail” – the idea that when mass-transit is provided the criminals will use the buses and trains as “get-away vehicles”.

Anybody with half-brain knows that if you have to wait 30-minutes for a bus, 30-minutes for the SIR, and 30 or 60 minutes for the ferry – public transit is not a “get-away vehicle”.

But the online trolls persist, ever coming up with their wild imaginations and fears. The online trolls still exist!

The truth is plain and simple – coming from the everyday folks that do not post on transit or news websites – decent well-planned, well-operated transit, that has decent fares/amenities/connections/travel times/frequencies/accessible stations or stops will be well used. Getting there is the difficult part, especially because public transit is expensive!

Then there are the nostalgia folks – who want to revive almost every past rail line or spur. The fact that those facilities do not take people where they really want to go, gets over looked. The old North Shore line, so often talked about, does not go to the shopping malls, to other parts of the island, or off the island. But at the meetings are transit-fan-folks jumping up and down about reviving the line! And then there’s the “Light-Rail-Folk” crowing about building lines to far out places, that yes lack transit, but also do not connect to existing routes, or actually take folks to where they want to go. Case in point – the latest idea – let’s build an LRT line on the sparse west shore that bypasses the populated sections, that goes over the bridge, so that the riders can take another LRT that snakes through NJ to a railroad station, and then take that crowded railroad into Manhattan! That’s three fares, little savings in time, right there! Please! This is thought of as the best bright idea!

Do not get me started! The people respond to real good work-able ideas, it just too bad that there are very few, that whatever is done costs a lot of money, and that inertia allows real everyday folk to just cope with and adjust to the transportation that is actually everyday available.


Bolwerk February 27, 2014 - 3:40 pm

Public transit doesn’t need to be very expensive relative to other public services, and it can mostly pay for itself. I’m sure there are some people who take a marginal interest in transit who also think some of the sillier things you mention (e.g., restore every old line), but as far as advocates go most of what you’re expressing is caricature, not what people actually think.

And it goes without saying that some of the things you mention are not that silly. Light rail is pretty low-capacity and low-impact compared to subways, so sure it makes sense in medium-density places like the North Shore. The lower the density, the more sense buses make for surface transit, but light rail has a sweet spot somewhere. Also, you’re probably misrepresenting the position of HBLR-North Shore supporters: at least part of the idea is some SI residents do work in New Jersey, and HBLR provides access for them, while it’s not that whack to think some HBLR users might want to get to SIRT of the ferry.

Michael February 27, 2014 - 4:36 pm

You have not looked at some of the latest proposals for LRT on Staten Island, which was about getting SI folks to and from Manhattan, and not about circulation in New Jersey. There’s a big difference between the two.

Circulation to and through New Jersey is a good idea, but that was not the plan as proposed by the SIEDC. Nor was distribution about Staten Island, read the article.

And yes, I have attend community board and transit meetings, where what I said happened. No, I don’t make stuff up.


Bolwerk February 27, 2014 - 8:07 pm

Re SIEDC: ah, yeah, I thought you were talking about North/West Shore service (which makes more sense to me than SIEDC’s West Shore proposal here). Still, SIEDC’s HBLR-Richmond Valley proposal seems to have some merit. I agree it seems like a poor option to Manhattan, but it seems like a sensible way to connect a significant chunk of SI to job centers like Jersey City and Hoboken – given that, I’d call it a promising proposal being defended with a flawed premise. (And let’s face it: it would probably draw some Manhattan-bound traffic too.)

I didn’t say or even suppose you made anything up – believe me, I’ve heard a lot of dumb shit too – but people saying things now and then doesn’t make them meaningfully influential. I’d be much more worried about costly but flawed proposals from real authorities that grandfather bad design in forever than I ever would be about vapor proposals from suburban business advocacy groups.

Nathanael March 4, 2014 - 1:28 pm

“old North Shore line, so often talked about, does not go to the shopping malls, to other parts of the island, or off the island. ”

Um, yes, it does. It goes off the island, to New Jersey. It also goes between residential areas and the ferry terminal, which makes it about as useful as the existing line.

HBLR over the Bayonne Bridge would make more sense, admittedly.

Herb Lehman February 27, 2014 - 12:38 pm

I totally understand the opposition to the Verrazano toll rollbacks, I can understand the animosity here toward Staten Island in general, and if I lived in other areas that weren’t getting a break, I’d be really angry, too.

That being said, I think most of us would agree that a $15 toll to cross a bridge a single time is absurd, and I think we really need to see the entire toll structure revamped so that people and businesses who have no choice but to drive a car (for whatever reason) aren’t absolutely killed by these tolls. It’s somewhat short-sighted to dismiss some sort of toll relief out of hand without knowing what effect these tolls are having on the local economy.

Benjamin Kabak February 27, 2014 - 12:45 pm

All of the people who currently pay $15 — which are only cash users — will still have to pay $15. They’re not getting any break, and leaning on them to make your point doesn’t help.

BenW February 27, 2014 - 3:32 pm

I do not agree in the slightest: the toll was formerly a two-way toll, and at the insistence of local residents was changed (in a putatively revenue-neutral fashion) to a one-way toll at twice the price. This is the direct cause of the current $15 rate (which is exactly twice the $7.50 charged for the other major MTA crossings). To turn around and then say “that $15 dollar toll is absurd!” represents a sufficiently gross failure of basic math that on in the general case it is reasonable to assume that it represents either an intentional attempt to deceive or willful self-deception. I don’t mean to impute either of those to you personally (not that there’s any particular reason you should care if I do, in my capacity as Some Dude on the Internet), but the description of the Verrazano toll as “$15 one way” is goalpost-shifting at its finest.

Ralfff February 27, 2014 - 2:25 pm

I believe and hope that this slight toll decrease has been a wake-up call to the rest of the city.

It’s put attention on the fact that Staten Island has the ear of the governor while the rest of the city does not. It’s also brought up the reality that a group of legislators selfishly campaigning for one borough (or any county, really) can get transportation bacon brought home. That this was accomplished for a typical Staten Island “us first and everyone else doesn’t exist” cause will be Staten Island’s political undoing once other boroughs get their lobbying acts together.

Nathanael March 4, 2014 - 1:30 pm

Manhattan’s probably too fragmented to get their lobbying act together.

But Brooklyn…. hmm, Brooklyn could *get* stuff.


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