Home Congestion Fee The Move New York plan alone won’t fix the subways

The Move New York plan alone won’t fix the subways

by Benjamin Kabak

For certain reasons, The New York Times seems to bury its urban policy editorials on Saturdays, and a pro-congestion pricing missive published on May 21st continued the trend. I didn’t have an opportunity to write it up last week, but for a few reasons, it’s worth revisiting. It’s a ringing endorsement of the Move New York plan, but I worry that supporters are putting too much hope on a plan that, when judged on its merits only, is very worthwhile but isn’t the single silver bullet it is often made out to be.

Coming in between a story on the overwhelmed subway system and a look at northeast transit infrastructure, the editorial trumpets the traffic pricing plan as the way to “save New York’s overwhelmed subways.” That’s a lofty goal considering the systemic problems with the subway and the organization running it right now. Some relevant excerpts:

The real reason for this sorry state of affairs has been not poverty but an impoverished imagination and a dearth of political will. Enter a group of Democrats in the State Assembly with an ambitious plan, introduced in March, that could significantly improve the city’s transportation system if the rest of the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo get behind it. Called the Move NY Fair Plan, it would collect about $1.35 billion a year in new revenue through bridge tolls, congestion pricing and a per-mile surcharge on taxi rides in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. The money would help pay for more frequent service on existing train and bus lines and new service in parts of the city that are so far from subway lines that officials and residents refer to them as “transit deserts.”

…The biggest chunk of the money from the new tolls and fees would enable the M.T.A. to borrow money for much-needed repairs and upgrades. For example, the authority would be able to more quickly replace its aging switching and signaling system with more reliable and efficient technology. That would allow it to run more trains, since it would be able to safely reduce the distance between them. The agency would also be assured of the money needed to finish the second phase of the Second Avenue subway line up to 125th Street…

Move NY would also give the M.T.A. the money and authority to establish new subway lines. One of the most promising proposals is for a line to connect the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn over existing rail tracks,…which supporters call the Triboro Rx…Similarly, the plan includes a proposal to turn existing Long Island Rail Road tracks between the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Rosedale in Queens into a new subway line…Finally, the legislation would set aside money for transit projects in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island. It would also create new bus service and reduce fares on express buses. And it would give money to neighborhood community boards to invest in local projects like bike lanes, bus depots, public plazas and station repairs.

Considering the MTA needs four or five years of Move New York revenue to fulfill the planned budget for Phase 2 of the Second Ave. Subway alone, that’s a lofty goal for what is, in New York City, a relatively paltry $1.35 billion a year. Of course, the MTA can bond out that money against revenue-generating projects but between all of these competing projects plus the need to expand service rapidly to make up for the demand congestion pricing will place on the transit network, that $1.35 billion won’t go nearly as far as The Times hopes.

And that’s the key: By itself, Move New York is a very worthwhile piece of a larger transportation puzzle. It should help alleviate congestion on city streets while providing another stream of dollars for transit investment, but it’s not the silver bullet.

In a Tweetstorm in response to The Times editorial, Yonah Freemark of The Transport Politic summed up this argument.

The MTA needs money, and the city’s streets need to be cleared of as many cars as possible. But the MTA also needs political support, massive cost and work rule reform, a plan to build and deliver projects quickly and efficiently, and operations reform. Move New York is a start, but it’s one piece of the puzzle, not the entire puzzle itself.

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Keon Morris June 2, 2016 - 8:53 am

Overall I’m for this plan but I don’t agree with everything. I think some things are missing or need to be changed.

1. Subways are already busting at the seams and there is not emphasis is being put on real subway expansion in the outer boroughs. You want people to take mass transit? Give them better transit options. No one cares about your SBS proposals, we want subway expansion. NYC has already surpassed it’s 2020 population estimate and is only projected to go higher. We spend 5-8 times MORE per mile construction for new subway lines compared to cities like Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Moscow. The costs are ridiculous and need to be looked at. Manhattan gets 7 train expansion, SAS, East Side Access and we in the outer boroughs get nothing really, Triboro RX is a start but not enough and even that is unlikely. This article already touches on how unlikely these are as the 1.35 Billion in annual funds can only go so far.

2. CBTC needs to be implemented on more lines and faster. This will allow the MTA to runs trains more frequently reducing the number of packed trains and we’d have countdown clocks on every line. Win win. 2 lines(7 and L) in 15 years is a joke, and it’s not stipulated anywhere specific in the proposal.

3. There needs to be price adjustments based on time of day. The entire premise of this plan is those in transit rich areas don’t need to drive and as such should take mass transit. Agreed, however if I’m driving into Manhattan at 3am on a Sunday there is no reason I should pay as much as someone driving in during the Monday rush hour. Nights(10:30pm to 5:30am M-F maybe) and weekends should be reduced pricing. There is less mass transit on nights and weekends as many lines shut down until the morning(or Monday in the case of weekends) and both trains and buses run less frequently therefore tolls should be lessened.

This is just my opinion however.

AMH June 2, 2016 - 11:17 am

I agree that MoveNY needs to be coupled with an ambitious plan for transit expansion. I would expect a congestion charge to be variable, and the tolls on other bridges would have to vary as well to prevent toll shopping. Is that the plan?

Guest June 2, 2016 - 2:54 pm

Tolls must always be balanced. It should always cost more to enter the CBD, and it should always cost more than a subway fare no matter the time.

tacony June 2, 2016 - 11:59 am

Right. The proposed 60th Street cordon seems especially ill-thought-out and much an afterthought in this proposal, and there isn’t a ton of traffic going north-south on Manhattan’s avenues across 60th Street late at night. The idea that we should shove everyone into an uptown 6 train that runs once every 20 minutes at 3am because we need to “equalize tolls” paid by drivers going from the CBD to the UES and to Bensonhurst and reduce the non-existent congestion at that hour is a little bizarre.

As it stands, if the MTA suddenly discovered that double the number of people were taking the train at that hour they’d probably still deem a train every 20 minutes all they can afford due to passenger loading guidelines. And I could lay down in the middle of 2nd Ave refreshing BusTime waiting for an M15 local (no SBS at that hour! no bus lanes at that hour!) that’s supposed to come every 30 minutes but just says it’s “at terminal” or “no buses on route, try again later.”

The plan trades the idea of paying a toll to drive across a bridge with the idea of paying a toll to access the CBD in an attempt at an equity play because obviously everybody loves the idea of soaking up rich UESers and giving Mike from Staten Island a break. But trying to put a moat between Midtown East and the UES seems intentionally designed to increase the costs of mobility and will in turn reduce mobility for most people. In fact, the plan seems designed to reduce traffic congestion as a first and foremost priority and the benefits to transit are just a bonus nicety with details that don’t matter. I wonder if its authors are regular transit riders. The subway system is bursting at the seams, the MTA is barely competent at managing their existing assets, service is unreliable, and even if the MTA’s budget were 10x what it is, it would take decades to make a dent in capacity. (Phases 1 and 2 of SAS will have little impact on congestion given the low planned frequencies and roundabout routing for most people).

Uptown 4/5/6 trains are already often crowded late into the night, after the streets are completely free of traffic. The MTA does not currently provide enough service, and I don’t trust them to suddenly change their minds about that. It seems naive to assume Move NY will make anything better. A safer assumption is that it’ll immediately fill the transit system with more riders the MTA already has trouble moving.

Guest June 2, 2016 - 3:02 pm

People need to remember that the roads are in worse shape than the subway. The surface capacity issues in the CBD and all routes to it prevent any other uses of space. There’s serious public health concerns from all the traffic.

A crowded subway car is uncomfortable, a congested street is far more dangerous. The street is more congested than the subway.

When we get traffic down in the core we could probably run SBS straight over some of the bridges in physically separated lanes. Could get separated lanes inside the CBD as well.

AG June 4, 2016 - 2:30 pm

Yes – in terms of danger to drivers and pedestrians – crowded subways are a better alternative than crowded roads. It is certainly true for the air we breathe as well. Then of course it’s all about the money. Crowded subways foster more economic activity than crowded roads – which drives up the cost of delivery of goods.

Tower18 June 2, 2016 - 1:29 pm

Regarding your point #3, the Move NY plan does include variable pricing by time of day on CBD tolls.

Guest June 2, 2016 - 2:58 pm

1.Triboro RX would be great for so many and reduce driving between the boroughs.

2. Yup.

3. I’ve been in pretty bad traffic late at night, especially on the bridges. Bowery, Canal, 1st, 2nd, 8th, 57th, etc. The tolls should always be locked so that you pay more to enter the CBD. It should always cost more to drive than to take mass transit too.

Keon Morris June 2, 2016 - 4:02 pm

Triboro RX while very good is only estimated to have 100k. I doubt it will affect car travel between the outer boroughs by much either. We need real subway expansion.

I disagree on the last point. That traffic was likely due to an accident or construction rather than late night over congestion. There is no reason I should pay a $12 round trip to go to and from the city late at night or on a Sunday, $6-8 RT is more fair. For outer borough residents, many of who live very far from a train line it makes more sense to drive versus wait 10 minutes for the bus, 10 minutes later transfer to the train, then wait 15 minutes for the train, then take the train for 25 minutes when you could have driven and been there is 20-25 minutes from the start. This is different on weekdays when both train and bus service is more frequent and all the lines are active. If the premises of this proposal is transit rich areas should pay tolls for access then when those areas are not as transit rich(nights and weekends) they should not pay as much. London’s congestion pricing is only in effect from 07:00 and 18:00 Mondays to Fridays and their congest. All I’m asking for is a REDUCTION on nights and weekends not even a full elimination. London is ranked 16th in the world for congestion…..NYC… 39th (source: TomTom traffic analysis). No reason for round the clock max pricing.

Just my opinion though.

Guest June 3, 2016 - 4:05 pm

I wonder if it would be possible to run the Triboro RX at significantly higher speeds than the subway since it would be independent of it pretty much. A quick ride to Queens from the Bronx would pull a lot of drivers from ever worsening traffic and parking. Same for Queens/Brooklyn commuters. It may induce far more demand than 100k, especially when development increases along the corridor. I wonder how many intra-borough trips would occur along the line in the new directions.

I have nothing against a reduction in off peak tolls but they should always be balanced and cost more than mass transportation. However, I think the day costs are pretty low to be honest.

AG June 3, 2016 - 10:45 pm

No one on the RFK or Whitestone bridges gets a reduction at night. Why should people driving into Midtown and Lower Manhattan? There is nothing fair about those bridges being free and wouldn’t be under your idea either.

As to Triboro RX – as long as it runs frequently enough – it most certainly will take cars off the road. It also opens up economic activity that doesn’t currently exist because of inconveniences in travel. Those added activities add to the tax revenue collected.

Keon Morris June 4, 2016 - 3:44 am

So what if those don’t currently get reductions? By that logic we shouldn’t have tolls on the other bridges because they don’t currently have them. I gave my reasons why TWICE already. You can go back and reread them. Reductions should be in place on all bridges and tunnels during non peak times in my opinion, including those.

As for Triboro Rx

“As long as it runs frequently enough”

Doubtful. Will likely operate like a shuttle service since it’s only projected to have 100k daily riders. Should I remind you of the populations of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx? This barely affects anyone and will barely reduce car traffic. I’m not against though as I don’t think the goal of the Triboro RX is to reduce traffic anyway. It’s another G train.

Bolwerk June 4, 2016 - 10:40 am

I don’t have a problem with off-peak reductions – I think it’s high time to rationalize the whole toll network.

Nor do I believe for a second Triborough RX will take cars off the road.

But what’s with sneering about 100k people a day? That’s a shit-ton. Averaged throughout the day that’s 4-5 articulated bus loads of people every ten minutes. That can easily be a robust light rail service, or a pretty busy rapid transit shuttle resembling the G Train. Yes, thanks to how demand is distributed in the real world, trains might sometimes be empty, but that’s a pretty normal phenomenon.

Keon Morris June 4, 2016 - 2:45 pm

I’m not sneering it I just felt that it wasn’t enough in terms of outer borough subway expansion. I feel people are over emphasizing it’s. I’m not against it, I’m for it my initial argument was that it wasn’t enough especially since this affects the outer boroughs the most I feel they should get more out of it. A line that will only see 100k is not enough for boroughs with a combined 6.5 million people. The B46(runs along Utica) alone sees 50k daily riders so I was really excited when De Blasio brought up the proposal of a potential Utica Ave line which I think, while costly, would be vital for transportation in those outer regions of Brooklyn. Other ideas include 3 train to the Bronx, extending the 2/5 past Flatbush Ave, etc. With the expanding population something has to give. We can’t kick the can down the road forever.

mister June 4, 2016 - 5:24 pm

I think this highlights the point about why TRX makes sense though. The Utica extension wouldn’t grab all of those riders off the B46, and would be all new construction, likely costing more than Triboro RX, but not opening up new connectivity throughout the system.

Keon Morris June 4, 2016 - 6:23 pm

“The Utica extension wouldn’t grab all of those riders off the B46”

It’d grab most. It’s the most ridden line in the entire city by a long shot. A Utica Avenue Extension would grab most of those riders and then some. It would provide a direct route to Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan with many connections at Atlantic Avenue. You’d see much greater growth in those areas of Brooklyn. Do you think a Utica Ave extension would get less than 50k daily riders?

There’s no question it’d cost more than the TRX but there’s no question it would have a greater impact too. Why not have both? 🙂

mister June 5, 2016 - 9:37 am

I don’t know that a single branch is more impactful than a radial that opens up brand new connectivity.

Bolwerk June 5, 2016 - 1:15 pm

I think there’s a strong case to be made that subway ridership would be much bigger than B46 ridership. The very act of using a bus for such a long route will naturally turn people to other alternatives (cars, a bus ride to a parallel subway line, etc.), so it’s not a great predictor of potential demand. Not perfectly analogous, but compare the ~50k people on the M15 to the ~500k projected on a full-length SAS.

Alon Levy June 7, 2016 - 2:42 am

It’d grab most. It’s the most ridden line in the entire city by a long shot

No, it isn’t. One year, it was the most ridden, by a small margin over the M15. It has since dropped to third, behind the M15 and Bx12.

(And I say this as someone who thinks a Utica subway can plausibly get 100,000 riders a day. A 30 km/h subway is getting more ridership than a 12 km/h bus.)

Bolwerk June 4, 2016 - 7:27 pm

Well, no one project is “enough.” Triborough RX closes a huge usability gap for the entire system, and I’d think 100k is just a starting point.

Keon Morris June 4, 2016 - 9:39 pm

I agree. I think people are getting the misconception that I’m somehow against the TRX when I’m now.

Adirondacker12800 June 4, 2016 - 11:05 am

100,000 riders a day would make it the 10th busiest system in the country.

Eric June 5, 2016 - 4:03 am

And it’s almost as many people as a brand new freeway would carry. All those people would be off the roads (to be mostly replaced by new people, because that’s how traffic works, but it would be a massive mobility gain for these neighborhoods)

AG June 5, 2016 - 10:21 pm

True… On top of it – more drivers will still be getting on the roads even if this doesn’t happen. Traffic will only be worse. It will either be worse – or much worse (no Triboro)

AG June 4, 2016 - 1:27 pm

“So what”? Well if you read the plan you would have learned that part of the point is equitable tolls… Of which they don’t exist. So the revenue collected at nights on all bridges – exactly how would that be made up??? I do agree that there should be a reduction for commercial vehicles to make deliveries at night… But no – east river bridges should not be given a discount because they are used to a free ride. Ride any of the bridges that have to pay at night and there are still plenty of cars.
So yeah I read your rationale and still don’t agree. Bringing up London??? London is more expensive to purchase and to operate a vehicle than NYC – toll or no toll. If NYC was expensive then it would be a valid comparison. NYC is much more car friendly overall – so really it needs this MOVE NY rules more than London needed congestion pricing.

“will likely operate”… Well we will see. As to the populations – so what is your point? That’s like saying the New Haven Line doesn’t reduce traffic. It’s ridership isn’t too far north of 100k. In any event – the actual point of the line is shortening commutes and spurring economic opportunity which doesn’t currently exist because of poor mass transit options. A line doesn’t need SAS Lexington Ave. ridership to be successful or useful. And no – based on the potential connections – it’s not a “G Train” at all. Does the G go to the Bronx? Does it connect to the majority of lines in Brooklyn and Queens? No

Keon Morris June 4, 2016 - 2:26 pm

“London is more expensive to purchase and to operate a vehicle than NYC”

So? How is that relevant to the issue of congestion pricing? They are still 23 spots higher than us on the congestion scale which is the premises of this bill. Reduce congestion.

“…so really it needs this MOVE NY rules more than London needed congestion pricing.”

Uhhh….again, they are ranked 16th in congestion we are ranked 39th…your argument makes absolutely ZERO sense.

Thankfully the people who drafted the bill seem to have sense.

“(ii) Sets the toll amount according to tolls charged for the Queens Midtown or Brooklyn Battery Tunnels but tells NYC-DOT to devise a variable, demand-based pricing schedule, so that actual tolls are higher at peak times and lower off-peak. This variable schedule must raise at least as much money, overall, as would be raised if the tolls were a constant price.”

I’m failing to see how this is a problem for you. Higher during peak times lower during off peak times. More cars traverse the bridges during peak times anyway offsetting the loses during none peak times. Seems like simple math to me.

But let’s go further and remove all the breaks then. Let’s add pay as you go zone pricing similar to the London Tube. Coming from Far Rockaway and going to Midtown? Great, you pay more than someone going from Financial District to Midtown. Make parking meters 24/7, no more free nights and Sundays. Remove the off-peak pricing for Metro North and LIRR because how else would they make up that revenue right?


G train ridership: 125k/day
Triboro RX: 100k/day

And comparing a train line that costs much more and travels across state lines is a crap comparison to one that goes through a few boroughs but if that makes sense to you then cool.

mister June 4, 2016 - 5:29 pm

Why does crossing state lines make a difference?

On a pure cost/passenger measurement, Triboro RX makes a lot of sense. It would move nearly as many passengers as East Side Access while costing an order of magnitude less.

Keon Morris June 4, 2016 - 6:17 pm

What are you arguing here? Let me bring this back to my initial argument. The Triboro RX is not enough investment in outer borough transit. Are you suggesting that it is?

I agree about the East Side Access. 10.2 Billion for 165k riders is simply too much.

AG June 4, 2016 - 10:59 pm

Well I’m sure confused. You’re comments regarding the Triboro RX only seem to be negative. Calling it just “another G train” makes it sound redundant and “only 100k riders” makes it sound like a waste. Of course it’s not enough in terms of expansion in the outer boroughs. I never saw anyone say it is… It absolutely has merit though. It’s also a good start and better than the mayor’s light rail plan for the BK/QB waterfront.

Keon Morris June 5, 2016 - 12:11 am

Yes because in the grand scheme of things 100k riders is not much when you’re taking about 6.5 million people across 3 boroughs. Again, if you read my initial statement you would see where I said it wasn’t enough. Manhattan gets SAS, 7 train extension, East Side Access, 1.4 Billion dollar Fulton St station and outer boroughs get Triboro RX(and that’s a BIG maybe) but only after it’s funded by tolls.

mister June 5, 2016 - 9:41 am

No, Triboro RX is not enough by itself, but I don’t know of any project that is going to impact 100k people and open up so much new connectivity. It’s probably the most important new project in the Outerboroughs.

AG June 5, 2016 - 12:07 pm

I tend to agree… In my career I’ve known people who commuted between Queens and The Bronx or Brooklyn and The Bronx. Most of them drove their cars.. Not because they wanted to (all except one actually tried using mass transit) -but because it was just too inconvenient using mass transit. Cutting 20 minutes – coupled with cost savings versus paying gas and tolls and those people (except that one) would have given up driving. Plus as job growth is faster in all the outer boroughs now – connecting them is even more important. Maybe one day we’ll get a full “Crossrail” or “Overground” or “Paris Grand Express” type expansion -but Triboro RX is a good start – if it happens.

AG June 4, 2016 - 10:53 pm

It makes sense because you are acting as if NY is as inhospitable to cars as London. London is a more expensive place to have a car.

You must have missed where I said commercial vehicles should get a discount to induce more delivery at night. As to private vehicles -no in my mind. No other bridges that are tolled get that discount – so neither should this potential route. The only reason they are doing it is to make it more politically viable. Unless everywhere else gets a larger discount – then it still isn’t equitable. It should NOT be cheaper to drive into the most dense area of the 5 boroughs.

As to the idea that the commuter rails should lose the of peak discount… Explain why that would make sense??? There is a reason to give incentive to people to use mass transit rather than drive. That is part of the point. Taking away that discount makes people more likely to drive – which adds to congestion and pollution. That makes zero sense.

And the comparison did matter since we were talking about the ability to take cars off of the road.
It doesn’t make sense because you don’t want it to. The only problem is you seem to have a hissy fit because someone doesn’t agree with you.

Adirondacker12800 June 4, 2016 - 11:17 pm

Truck drivers get paid by the hour.

AG June 5, 2016 - 11:07 am

Yes I know… There are many ways to handle logistics for commercial deliveries. I have relatives who their own trucking business and I’ve worked with companies who make commercial deliveries. Giving them an incentive to deliver off peak (doesn’t have to be at midnight) will certainly help congestion and pollution (but not wear and tear on roads).

Keon Morris June 5, 2016 - 1:11 am

“It makes sense because you are acting as if NY is as inhospitable to cars as London. London is a more expensive place to have a car.”

For the ten trillionth time, the ENTIRE POINT of this bill is to reduce congestion during times of large congestion(peak hours). You’re creating a straw man argument, you’re arguing a point I never made. I’m not “acting as if” anything. Cost of ownership has nothing to do with anything, we are talking about CONGESTION and that is it. You keep bringing this “cost” back up because you have no argument here. London being 23 places HIGHER on the congestion scale has nothing to do with the cost of anything. They have done the sensible thing and induced congestion pricing during times when there are viable transit options and high congestion(07:00-18:00 Monday through Friday) and completely removed it during times when there less transit options and little to no congestion . London has higher congestion rates and does not have round the clock congestion pricing, NYC has less congestion yet you want round the clock max congestion pricing. This would be fine and dandy if mass transit ran as consistently on nights and weekends as it does at 8am on Monday morning but it DOES NOT therefore the tolls get lowered for those times.

Here’s a direct quote of the rationale on nyc.smartparticipation.com proposals page regarding the tolls

“Rationale: Tolls should reflect the level of congestion and the availability of public transit alternatives to driving….”

Peak hours = high transit alternatives and higher congestion therefore higher toll prices.

Off Peak hours = less transit alternatives as well as little/no congestion therefore lower toll prices.

The bill even says it will balance out as the peak pricing with be high enough to offset the lower off peak prices.

And you’re right, my suggestion to remove off peak pricing on train service does not make sense, much like your argument to keep round the clock max congestion pricing even when there is no congestion and less transit.

It’s 1am Sunday morning and I just checked google maps, if I were to go from where I currently am in Flatbush Brooklyn to Wall St and Broadway it would take me 16 minutes driving via the Batt Tunnel(18 minutes if I bridge shopped and took the Brooklyn Bridge, I’d save $8 cash/$5.54 EZ by only spending two extra minutes to go out of my way. Where’s all that 1am Sunday congestion I should be paying max price for?) and 46 minutes(an extra 30 minutes no thank you) if I decided to take the train. When I adjust the departure time in google maps to 9am Monday morning the estimated mass transit time immediately drops to 30 minutes door to door(more transit options and consistent service during peak hours) and we can both assume my drive would likely double in time to over half an hour(speaking from experience plus google maps does not let you forecast driving times as they do mass transit) as there are more cars on the road at 9am Monday(peak hours) which equals congestion versus 1am Sunday(off-peak) where the streets are pretty much clear as day and traffic is smooth as butter.

AG June 5, 2016 - 11:23 am

Are you ok? You seem to be having a hissy fit. Let’s discuss like adults.
In any event you are not fully correct- it’s not really about just reducing congestion… It’s more about rationalizing the tolls in the area and raising funds for mass transit.

You don’t get it about owning a car being more difficult in London – that’s fine. You were the one who brought up London in the first place as if that’s the only city with congestion pricing. My point is congestion pricing or not – London is more expensive and more difficult to drive (much more narrow streets). Them being more congested doesn’t mean we didn’t need this long before them and don’t now.

In any event – again (I won’t be childish and up your numbers) – a main part to the bill is to make tolls more fair and rational. If someone has to pay to cross the Verazzano or the RFK or the Whitestone bridges for the same price all day and night – then so should anyone going over the Manhattan-Brooklyn-Williamsburg. Stop throwing a hissy fit and read what I’m saying. In never said they will pay the max all night. My comment is in relation to the other bridges. It is much more sensible that those bridges into Midtown and Lower Manhattan be more expensive at all times. So if they get reduction at night – the others should get more of a reduction. If the others don’t – then they shouldn’t either (but I do think commercial vehicles should get them to keep more of them off the road during the day). In no way though should those bridges be free at night. People driving from Flatbush to Wall St. should just have to get used to paying tolls at night to cross a major bridge like everyone else has been doing for a long time.

Keon Morris June 5, 2016 - 8:28 pm

LOL try to stick to the points I’m bringing up and save the ad hominems and straw man arguements please.

“You don’t get it about owning a car being more difficult in London – that’s fine.”

Yes because it has nothing to do with congestion pricing.

“You were the one who brought up London in the first place as if that’s the only city with congestion pricing.”

Again with the straw man, putting words in my mouth. I didn’t imply that it was the only one, it was simply the one I used in my example as London is very similar to NY in terms of transit options and population size. At no point did I imply it was the only city with congestion pricing.

“London is more expensive and more difficult to drive (much more narrow streets)”

How is this relevant? You’d think, with all that you just said they’d keep round the clock tolling in place to dissuade driving yet they don’t, it’s only in place during peak hours. Thank you for proving my point.

“Them being more congested doesn’t mean we didn’t need this long before them and don’t now.”

Never said we didn’t need it, just said it needed to be reduced during off peak times, they on the other hand completely remove it. Thank you for continuing to put words in my mouth.

“In any event – again (I won’t be childish and up your numbers)”

Providing stats and facts is childish now? Got it. Let’s be childish then because I’m waiting or those.

“If someone has to pay to cross the Verazzano or the RFK or the Whitestone bridges for the same price all day and night – then so should anyone going over the Manhattan-Brooklyn-Williamsburg.”

Why? Those bridges do not feed directly into the CBD congestion zone like the East River Bridges do. The East River tolls are much higher is specifically because they go directly into the CBD, these tolls will be reduced during times of low congestion and fewer transit options(nights and weekends). This is precisely why those exiting the Queensboro 59th St bridge north of 60th St pay $3.04 with EZ pass and those who take the very same bridge but get of on the exits south of 60th St pay $5.54. Though I must say I have no problems with off peak price reductions on all the bridges and tunnels.

“My comment is in relation to the other bridges. It is much more sensible that those bridges into Midtown and Lower Manhattan be more expensive at all times. ”

The bridges are currently free and, with the proposal, will be a higher tolls cost than the bridges you listed. The only reason they are much higher is due to congestion, which is lessened on nights and weekend therefore the toll costs will be as well.

Here’s the direct link of the map with bridge pricing straight from the proposal:


” In no way though should those bridges be free at night.”

When did I say they should be free? I said they should be reduced. Do I have to look up the definition of the word for you?

Thankfully the people who drafted this bill seem to have the common sense you lack and time based pricing is in the proposal. There’s no reason for me to throw a hissy fit since it is you who isn’t getting there way. Have a good day 🙂

AG June 5, 2016 - 10:26 pm

Yes – your attempts at being snarky are pretty childish.

My point about London is that it’s less car friendly than NYC even without congestion pricing… Never mind – you are too brilliant for your own good.

In any event – I was commenting on your #3 WAY up at the top. You did not reference the plan at all.. You gave your opinion in your own words. I responded in kind to your opinion – not based on the legislation being drafted. I guess you are so brilliant that just flew over your head. Maybe if in #3 you specifically referenced the plan instead of saying your own opinion – I would have replied to you directly as such. Again – you are too brilliant.

Bolwerk June 6, 2016 - 9:55 am

My point about London is that it’s less car friendly than NYC even without congestion pricing…

Mostly avoiding this thread, but I’m not sure this is true. London certainly has a higher modal share for work journeys, or at least did as of 2011. I believe it also has a higher rate of car ownership, though that’s arguably a Manhattan-driven outlier effect. (It also has a lot more Los Angeles-like land use.)

The only way I can think someone could proclaim New York more “car-friendly” is by enforcement. It’s very lax in NYC, and probably isn’t in London. But I don’t really consider poor enforcement a favor to motorists, considering it probably goes a long way toward degrading the mode’s utility.

AG June 6, 2016 - 1:29 pm

I don’t mind if someone disagrees with me :). When I say NYC is more car friendly – I mean specifically the cost of buying and operating a vehicle. Our car has a list price a few thousand more in the UK. Then you add in the extra taxes that’s thousands more. I don’t know the comparative insurance rate – but just about everything else related to the vehicle is more expensive there. Then f you factor in the cost of fuel.. If fuel was as expensive here I don’t know if I would even own our car. My wife and I both take the train to work. The car is mainly for errands and leisure. Forget even VAT – if we were paying the same fuel costs – I don’t doubt car ownership would be even lower here in NYC. People would be demanding more and better mass transit. I have relatives in England who are not poor – but financially – owning a car makes no sense to them. That’s why in my opinion – there should be no discount to drive in Lower or Midtown Manhattan for non-commercial vehicles off peak. That revenue stream should be maximized for transit dollars. Paying tolls doesn’t stop the parking garages from being full of cars with Jersey plates going to Broadway shows. It doesn’t stop a die hard Mets fan knowing they have to pay to cross the Whitestone at all hours. Those driving from Brooklyn to Manhattan would adjust. I understand who wrote this plan need to make it palatable politically to avoid what happened to Bloomberg’s plan… But I think it would be giving up transit dollars.

Bolwerk June 10, 2016 - 2:18 pm

Well, I agree it’s more expensive. My take is it’s actually easier and more pleasant to drive around London, and they try to keep it that way. I guess I’d argue that’s more car-friendly, though maybe New York wants to be more car-friendly. :-\

AG June 10, 2016 - 4:55 pm

Just curious…. Why do you consider it more pleasant..?

Bolwerk June 13, 2016 - 11:41 am

Generally the roads are in better shape, driving around is just a bit easier. Parking also seems a lot easier. I’d say congestion is generally lower, though not sure about peak-direction, peak-demand congestion. Granted, this may not be very true of the City of London, but compared to Manhattan that’s a pretty small part of the small-c city.

My biggest turnoff with London driving is the damn left-side driving thing.

AG June 13, 2016 - 5:10 pm

Oh – understood. But my belief is the reason it is all of those things you listed is because its much more expensive to operate a vehicle (especially taxes and fees).
My family migrated here from a British colony… Driving on that side of the road is fine for me – LOL.

pete June 3, 2016 - 8:11 pm

2. Operations labor and loading guidelines limit frequency, not signals. CBTC is useless, adding only 2 TPH to flushing line. 29 TPH isn’t LUG’s 30 TPH or Moscow’s 40 TPH.

AG June 3, 2016 - 10:48 pm

Having a more reliable signalling system is “useless”?? That alone is worth it – if there was no increase in capacity. You are correct in terms of the hindrances to frequency compared to other places – but CBTC is not at all “useless”

Bolwerk June 4, 2016 - 10:27 am

2 TPH is space to hold approximately four thousand more people, ignoring turnover.

Rob June 2, 2016 - 8:58 am

Well said.

BTW, re ‘turn existing Long Island Rail Road tracks between the Atlantic Terminal and Rosedale into a new subway line’ – anyone there know that’s what it used to be [as far as Jamaica]?

orulz June 2, 2016 - 12:08 pm

This plan has negative transportation value. That line needs to stay as commuter rail so that it can get connected with NJT in Hoboken.

RPA also wants to eventually connect this converted LIRR Atlantic branch subway line to the second ave subway but I think the second ave subway, if it gets extended to Brooklyn, should feed into the Fulton street line at Court Street. If you want a subway to Rosedale, build it off of the Archer Avenue line.

Bolwerk June 2, 2016 - 12:33 pm

I don’t know if I agree with orulz (NJ will never cooperate), but Fulton Street seems to have plenty of spare capacity as is. S-Bahnifying the LIRR and linking it to Manhattan would be a worthy middle ground.

orulz June 2, 2016 - 4:03 pm

The impetus to force this cooperation has to come from the federal level. Anthony Foxx and USDOT should make NJT-LIRR-MNR through running a pprecondition for any federal money to be spent on the Gateway tunnel project. Simply: implement integrated through running, get billions of federal dollars. Continue the status quo of self interested fiefdoms, get zero federal dollars. Once the ice has been broken for Penn and Gateway, a lower Manhattan connection is much easier to fathom politcally.

Technically through running gives the greatest benefit between Jamaica and EWR so lay third rail to EWR and extend catenary from Sunnyside to Jamaica. You could even do it the Japanese way and train the operators on both companies’ equipment, and swap operators in Manhattan.

Bolwerk June 2, 2016 - 4:36 pm

Not sure Emperor Trump’s Minister of Golf Course Investment will go for it. :-p

Adirondacker12800 June 2, 2016 - 6:16 pm

The plan back in the 60s was that the trains from southeastern Queens would use LIRR ROW along the Main Line for “super” express service on the Queens Blvd lines.

New Jersey would be interested because PATH is at capacity. Which is why they extended the platforms at Exchange Place and Harrison. As soon as they get Grove Street done…. they don’t have the space to store the longer trains. Which is why they want to go out to Newark Airport. They run out of capacity again sometime in the future.

In 2040 when East Side Access and Penn Station are reaching capacity again, there are two choices. More tunnel to Midtown so people headed to Wall Street can stuff themselves onto the overcrowded subway or more tunnel to Wall Street. Which gets them there faster and keeps them off the subway.

New tunnel from Jersey City, with a station at Newport, somewhere under Fulton Street stations on the subway, Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn…. means third rail shuttles between Jamaica and Secaucus, Broad Street in Newark and Newark Penn Station. Rebuild the tunnel in Brooklyn and something M8-ish could run to stations farther out. Instead of changing at Jamaica, changing at Valley Stream etc.

orulz June 2, 2016 - 9:40 pm

To what extent does that tunnel have to be rebuilt? I guess I always assumed that if M8’s can run in the Park Ave tunnel then they or something very similar could run in Atlantic Avenue as well.

I can find online that the maximum height for equipment at both NYP and GCT is 14’6″, but what about the tunnels leading to the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn?

Jon Y June 3, 2016 - 8:31 am

The M3 and M7 that the LIRR currently uses to Atlantic are both at or under 13′.

orulz June 3, 2016 - 4:20 pm

I wonder if 13′ vehicles that can run on third rail plus under wire are feasible. Four foot platforms make that difficult, at least. Third rail to Secaucus and Broad Street would at least be cheaper than rebuilding the tunnel.

R2 June 2, 2016 - 9:25 am

My fear is that contractors will raise prices by the amount generated by MoveNY and we’ll be right back where we started!

tacony June 2, 2016 - 2:17 pm

If we just keep throwing money at the problem without reforms, this will undoubtedly happen as it has been happening for the past 50 years.

Duke June 2, 2016 - 11:02 pm

This plan has merit even if the rates were set to be revenue-neutral simply because it rationalizes the toll structure.

Driving from Brooklyn to Manhattan instead of using one of the 15 subway lines available? Free. Driving from Queens to The Bronx instead of using one of the zero subway lines available? $5.54 each way, or free if you needlessly drive through Manhattan.

The Move NY structure removes the incentive to shunpike through Manhattan and charges higher tolls for trips that have more transit alternatives.

But all that said yes, the concern that the extra revenue will just get gobbled up by more inflation in the cost of construction and operations is quite valid. It is an issue that will need to be addressed since nothing will ever improve if it isn’t. However, it requires taking on labor unions who collectively have as much political clout today as Tammany Hall did a century ago. It also requires better management, which the MTA will never have so long as its management salaries remain paltry compared to management salaries at most other employers in the region – another politically difficult issue to address since people will complain those managers make too much money.

AG June 4, 2016 - 2:11 pm

Well said on every point.

A.G. June 2, 2016 - 9:42 am

“But the MTA also needs political support, massive cost and work rule reform”

So, who’s starting the capital construction cost reform group? Alon Levy has done a ton of work on the subject, with some clear (at least to me) implicit recommendations. MoveNYC and existing funding would be enough if our costs were only 2x, and not 10x other first world cities.

Ben, you should consider a post on this. Tell all your rail-fan readers how to get involved. The people demand more efficient construction designs and project management!

Brooklynite June 2, 2016 - 6:26 pm

It’s interesting that you’re the one that suggested this – your initials are quite appropriate here. The Attorney General should be having a look at construction practices… or at least the MTA IG whose job it is to do such things.

Larry Littlefield June 2, 2016 - 10:16 am

“The biggest chunk of the money from the new tolls and fees would enable the M.T.A. to borrow money for much-needed repairs and upgrades.”

So what happens in the next capital plan? This is just another attempt by Generation Greed to seize another future revenue source and spend it entirely on itself before it dies off or leaves town.

Anyone who doesn’t object is complicit with what would happen in five years. Five years? The way things are going, they’ll spend that revenue in three years.

Bolwerk June 2, 2016 - 12:30 pm

What’s with comments like this? Borrowing to fix things that will be moving people 30/40/50 years from now isn’t the same as borrowing to pay for 1998’s pension obligations.

Larry Littlefield June 2, 2016 - 1:04 pm

Again, what is your funding source for the next MTA capital plan?

Bolwerk June 2, 2016 - 1:26 pm

It’s irrelevant. Both this capital plan and the next capital plan will need to be financed. Our immediate problem is funding this one.

But if you really care, my preference? Cut opex in certain areas and focus more on using those workers to make capital improvements. It can even be done now, though Cuomo won’t do it. I don’t see any reason most token booth clerks can’t be retrained to paint and grout.

But reality? Tax revenues, likely even tax increases.

SEAN June 2, 2016 - 3:58 pm


I know this is somewhat off topic, but I need to relay a story to you.

On May 9th, I took a trip out to Long Island to visit a few friends. Before disembarking at Minneola, I over herd a conversation between a passenger & two conductors. The passenger noted that her daughter recently relocated to Tampa & “she’s never coming back.” Meanwhile the two conductors noted how many years they had before retirement – one had eight & the other had four. Both indicated that they will be leaving for florida when the time comes.

I thought of you after this went down.

AG June 4, 2016 - 2:08 pm

Retired New Yorkers (well the tri-state area) is the linchpin of Florida’s economy – along with tourism. Many of whom are bored – and their favorite thing to do is call “back home” in February to say “it’s 75 degrees here”. I’m related to quite a few of them. At least most of them aren’t collecting government pensions though.. With the exception of one. He was a bus driver. Almost all of the guys he retired with are down their either full or part time. The irony – not lost on them – is that if they drove a bus in Florida as their career – they wouldn’t be able to retire as comfortably as they have retiring from NY.

mister June 2, 2016 - 11:50 pm

I agree with Larry; there is no reason to take out a loan and tie up this revenue stream for decades (and squander much of it on paying interest). Instead, it should be coupled with other revenue sources to make up the difference.

And this plan is supposed to already be funded, no?

Bolwerk June 3, 2016 - 9:58 am

It’s not even a question of opinion really. There is no other way to use the money if you want it to pay for longer-term projects. If you don’t, fine, but then you’re not doing much for the capital program.

And the people who don’t want it tied up seem to have a lot of faith (we’re talking Jihadi levels of faith here!) that Andy wouldn’t see a stream of money just waiting to be spent on Long Island or New Jersey or something.

And this plan is supposed to already be funded, no?

Maybe, I lost track honestly. Been a busy work season for me. I want to say a deal was struck to finance any loose ends with more debt.

mister June 3, 2016 - 1:08 pm

It’s $1.35 Billion per year – Enough to keep Second Avenue going every year until complete, or enough to fund almost half of the capital replacement projects scoped out for the Subways, or almost all of Metro North, LIRR and Buses projects combined.

If someone managed their personal finances this way, they would be considered fiscally irresponsible. Why is it different for a transit agency?

Bolwerk June 3, 2016 - 2:56 pm

I don’t know what numbers you’re comparing, but it was my understanding that the 5-year capital plan already exceeds $5B/year. $1.35B is a significant chunk of that, but far less than half.

Transit agencies aren’t people, obviously, but borrowing against this is rather analogous to financing an income-producing building with a mortgage partially backed by future rent receipts. The current system is to borrow against future promises to pay back, which seems much more (though not perfectly) analogous to typical American personal finance irresponsibility to me. :-p

mister June 4, 2016 - 5:46 pm

The numbers I am comparing are the cost for each independent system’s capital expenditures (minus expansion projects). So yes, on the whole, $1.35 billion is less than half of the total need, but as you say, it is a big chunk.

The analogy of borrowing against a future income producing building is what everyone wants to compare this to, but it’s the wrong analogy. When I borrow money to finance a new building, I am borrowing it to generate MORE revenue than I am presently earning. So if I don’t borrow the money, I don’t generate the revenue. When transit agencies borrow, they never spend it on projects that will generate a net positive revenue: They are either building a new project that will be a net loser (plus debt repayments), or they are rebuilding what they already have (which they will still need to pay to operate, and now they will have to also pay off the debt they spent rebuilding it). In this case, they have identified a new revenue stream, but want to borrow against revenue they only have, not revenue they want to create. So for the life of the bonds, the revenue will be gone (and some of it will be paying bondholders a profit) but the next capital plan will have a brand new hole in it.

Bolwerk June 4, 2016 - 7:44 pm

Going by that logic, don’t you eventually lose riders if you don’t prioritize critical capital costs? You can easily be in a situation where you lose money one way, and lose more money the other way.

In fact, personal finance offers another analogy to that: your car needs to be fixed, you can’t afford it out of pocket. Your options are (1) take a loan and have your car so you can work or (2) “save” the money and not be able to get to work. Your car is necessary, but it doesn’t generate any revenue unless you drive for Uber or something.

Luckily we in New York have option (3) sometimes: take transit. But even then you might be stuck with a sucky option (2), which means being stuck without a car you can drive but still having to pay to keep up on car payments or whatever – Larry’s seeming solution.

mister June 5, 2016 - 9:54 am

The car repair analogy is a fairly good one. Let’s make it totally analogous to the TA’s situation:

Your car has many problems. You don’t have enough money to fix them all from your current revenue streams, but you could borrow against your current income to fix one. You do that and fix the most pressing one. 6 months go by, and now another one of the problems threatens to shutdown your car. You can’t borrow anymore, and all of your money is going towards paying down debt. What do you do?

That is why TA needs to stop mortgaging the future to pay for the present. Everyone needs to identify funding sources for the capital program that will sustain it for the long haul, not quick fixes that only stall the problem for 5 years.

Bolwerk June 5, 2016 - 1:09 pm

Everyone needs to identify funding sources for the capital program that will sustain it for the long haul, not quick fixes that only stall the problem for 5 years.

That’s totally true, and Move NY is a step toward doing just that. But the simple act of using any dedicated funding source pretty much by definition requires [drumroll!] borrowing.

With regard to “mortgaging” the next 15 or 30 years of revenue completely, there is a good argument to be made for doing just that: it could fund a huge chunk of high-need projects or deferred maintenance now, which reduces the cost of endless quick-fix patches over time and actually saves money. Prophylactically, I like the idea because it prevents Cuomo from seeing it in a year or two, licking his chops, and burning it on a highway or something.

You can say it takes something away from the future, but not doing it also gives the future a shittier transit system.

mister June 6, 2016 - 10:12 pm

How much money is it going to save? For example, capital track work is part of the plan; and it will bring many sections of track into State Of Good Repair. But it won’t eliminate the need to do that again in 5 years. Does anyone see it also reducing the size of track maintenance department? Same with signals and stations.

New funding sources only require borrowing because they are not large enough funding sources. If we could just get enough stable funding streams to pay for SOGR replacements, then using debt to fund capital expansion projects might not be so bad. But we aren’t even close to that.

Bolwerk June 8, 2016 - 9:09 am

How much money is it going to save?

Don’t know, but borrowing $1.35 at 5% over 15 years it needs to save about $400M a year over the alternative. Assuming there is an alternative. Nobody who complains about debt every seems to have one (*pokes Larry*)! Hopefully they’d be able to borrow at 3% or 4%, given the relatively low risk. Each 1 percentage point drop in the rate saves about $100M a year.

But a significant savings shouldn’t be hard to achieve, considering not being in a state of good repair causes everything from overtime to bustitutions to breakdowns to lost revenue.

…it will bring many sections of track into State Of Good Repair. But it won’t eliminate the need to do that again in 5 years.

What does this mean? Where the work is done, it will often be decades before it needs to be repeated.

What will need to happen in five years is other sections of track and whatnot will need to SoGR treatment. They spent decades deferring maintenance, so now that bill is coming due. I’m not thrilled about it, but it is what it is.

Does anyone see it also reducing the size of track maintenance department? Same with signals and stations.

I certainly hope not! Maintenance always needs to be done. If the could actually get a grip on on SoGR, I’d hope they could focus on system expansion. But even a SoGR state means a lot of maintenance.

mister June 8, 2016 - 1:52 pm

What will need to happen in five years is other sections of track and whatnot will need to SoGR treatment. They spent decades deferring maintenance, so now that bill is coming due. I’m not thrilled about it, but it is what it is.

This is my point. In 5 years, you’ll have just as many components reaching EoL, or well beyond it, with no money on hand to fund those improvements. If you, instead, took the funding you have, and then proposed a measure to fund the gap from additional revenue sources, you would still be able to get the work done, and at the end of the 15 year period that $400M you would have spent paying investors is available for you to do what you need.

One would certainly hope that when everything is new and in a SOGR, you wouldn’t need to have as big of a maintenance department. Solid state interlockings and CBTC should require less tinkering than 60-70 year old relays.

Bolwerk June 10, 2016 - 1:37 pm

Now that’s probably asking for *more* debt. What are these revenue sources? And why squander them now, when we can get at least most of what we need for the time being from Move NY?

smotri June 2, 2016 - 4:51 pm

Generation greed, generation greed, generation greed. Remember, never look in the mirror, always look elsewhere to cast blame.

Tower18 June 2, 2016 - 1:22 pm

All other things aside, I wouldn’t consider a Saturday editorial to be “buried” w/r/t the NY Times. Saturday and Sunday have high rates of home delivery, and it could be there’s something specific about that audience vs. that of daily commuters, that the NY Times was trying to reach.

Perhaps those who are in Albany during the week? Or drivers (hence may not read the weekday editions)?

AG June 3, 2016 - 10:38 pm

True… NY Times editorial board and their average reader-base don’t like to hear things like “controlling capital costs” or “controlling pension costs”. Charge more is the answer to everything in their political worldview. That said – I do support the “Move NY” plan. For it to be most effective though – the waste and mismanagement in the MTA needs to be brought under control.

mister June 3, 2016 - 12:21 am

There are a couple of things that are off the mark here.

First of all, this notion that the $1.35 Billion allocated here is “paltry”. The current capital plan called for roughly $30 Billion over 5 years. That means each year, they need approximately $6 billion. That’s more than 20% of what is needed to fund the plan each year. Over the life of the plan, that’s $6.75 Billion, roughly equal to the Federal contribution.

Second is the notion that this money can’t pay for even one of the expansion projects that Yonah mentions (SAS, Triboro RX, Atlantic Branch Conversion). None of these projects would be built in a single year. How much money do you think Converting the Atlantic Branch would cost? If the project took 3 years to build, it could cost $3.5 billion (an astronomical sum of a conversion of a single line) and there would still be over $500 million left.

In short, Move NY could provide a stable source of funding that would work in tandem with other funding sources, some of which already exist anyway, so it’s not like Move NY MUST fund the entire Capital Plan. The City should continue to make a modest contribution towards the plan from the general budget ($500M sounds right). Federal contributions make sense as well. Expansion projects should chase value capture through working with municipal authorities to sell zoning bonuses and allowing development on and above properties owned by MTA.

There are other ways of generating revenue, but it needs to put an end to the debt plan that currently results in a drain on operational revenue. MoveNY is a step in the right direction, and it’s a much bigger step than Yonah wants to give them credit for.

webster June 3, 2016 - 10:20 am

What, if anything, precludes the city from implementing the kinds of voter bond measures that other cities (LA, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, etc) have been relying on to finance large infrastructure projects?

Am I correct in assuming this is due to a lack of enabling legislation for such “taxes”?

It just seems like pretty low-hanging fruit. There’s gotta be a good reason why it doesn’t happen.

Bolwerk June 3, 2016 - 10:41 am

It’s deeper than lack of enabling legislation. NYC’s budgetary power is on a pretty tight leash. We’re still under a financial control board. TIFs are apparently a partial loophole for that.

Given the incompetence of this mayor and the prior two, I’m not even sure I can deny it has saved us some pain. But, sure, we’ll need local control back someday.

LordDeucey June 3, 2016 - 4:11 pm

Technically, MTACC seems to fulfill the role that LA’s GoldLine and ExpoLine Construction Authorities do – control public financing of rail transport construction. And the State of California allows municipalities, counties and special districts to add taxes to general tax streams to finance these projects and operations (ie a 1/2 cent tax added to sales tax rates).

I don’t think NYS allows that to happen here, and MTACC seems too large to effectively manage construction programs. So if I’m right, you’d need legislative action to allow for specific bond votes along with splitting MTACC into several entities – ROW maintenance, and system expansion/new construction. I don’t think that’ll happen since it would effectively grant NYC some measure of Independence that NYS may not like (even though it works stupidly well West of the Rockies).

Adirondacker12800 June 3, 2016 - 4:25 pm

People in New York City vote in elections for legislators and Governor. They pay New York State taxes too.

mister June 5, 2016 - 9:56 am

MTACC is actually rather small; they only manage the “megaprojects” and a few security jobs.

AG June 3, 2016 - 10:35 pm

I tried to post this earlier but it didn’t work… In any event – New Yorkers already face a higher tax burden than any of those cities you named – with only LA being close. Asking them to vote for another across the board tax increase has low chance of success. Plus it’s easier to get people to vote for something “new” in those cities than saying “we need to fix…” or “we need to expand…”

Billy G June 3, 2016 - 11:47 am

Yet another money grab with nothing of value to show for it.

Even if something useful comes of it, it will be decades away.


If a system is unable to sustain itself without long-term subsidy, let it raise rates or perish under its own ill-gotten weight. If that means letting NYC grind to a halt until it can stabilize on a more healthy foundation, so be it.

If people are choosing to drive in by car, the answer is not to claim that those people are stupid and we should use the whip of law and taxation to force them to do what you please, because you know best. That is the act of a cowardly woman.

Brooklynite June 3, 2016 - 7:19 pm

If we look at it purely from a financial aspect, then road users should be paying more as well. Gas taxes and registration fees don’t cover 100% of road costs, just like transit fares don’t cover 100% of transit fares. That’s not getting into the difficult-to-calculate benefits of having a walkable, dense CBD with fewer cars than would otherwise be necessary. Public transit does not have to cover 100% of its costs to be considered a net benefit.

Adirondacker12800 June 3, 2016 - 7:36 pm

Estimates vary, between a buck a gallon tax on gasoline so that the road system pays for itself. I don’t remember if the buck a gallon covers local roads or not. It would be a good thing if road users started paying for what they use.

AG June 4, 2016 - 1:55 pm

If the systems that developed the internet early on weren’t paid for by the taxpayers you wouldn’t have been able to post that comment. In any event – cars and roads have historically been greatly subsidized. No mega city can function without great mass transit. NYC is a mega-city. Each society has to decide what is most valuable. Single user cars or mass transit? In NYC that’s not even close.


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