Stop Tolls on East River Bridges in New York City and Keep Them Toll Free! Constituent Letter to Governor Cuomo and the Albany Legislature to Stop Tolls on East River Bridges in NYC and Keep Them Toll Free!

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Stop tolls on New York's East River Bridges

I am writing to you to ask that you make all efforts to prevent the 
currently free East River Bridges in New York City from being tolled. 

My reasons are as follows:

1. These bridges were built and paid for with taxpayer money. Charging 
tolls on these crossings is a form of double taxation after-the-fact. 
Additionally, as these bridges are maintained with proceeds from taxes on 
motorists' gasoline, a toll is an effective form of double taxation. 
Motorists in New York already pay some of the highest gas taxes and 
suffer the worst roads; charging tolls on roads which these taxes 
maintain adds insult to injury.

2. The free bridges function as an effective limit on the MTA (TBTA)
tolled bridges, which currently have some of the highest tolls per mile in
the country at $5 per trip and upwards. As high as these tolls are, the
MTA can not continue to increase tolls on these facilities without
restraint as it chases increasing numbers of motorists to the free
bridges. By allowing the MTA/TBTA to set tolls on the free bridges, all
constraints on the MTA/TBTA will be removed, and tolls on both the extant
TBTA facilities as well as the currently free East River Crossings will
likely raise dramatically with the newly "captive" driving public having
no alternatives. 

3. The MTA lacks transparency, is bloated, and for all the billions
expended on the MTA over the years has failed to meet its initial goals of
unifying the region's transportation services. Areas with growing
passenger demand (such as those served by the "G" line, or the unused "F"
and other express tracks in Brooklyn) were ignored by the MTA when it was
flush with cash, and major capital projects, such as the Fulton Street
Center and the South Ferry "1" station are over budget, mis-planned, and
generally manifest incompetence and lack of any sense of accountability on
the part of the MTA. It does not deserve, nor should it receive, ANY
additional sources of funding until it justifies and accounts for the
endless blunders and inattentive management. 

4. New York City is ONE city separated by bodies of water; tolls only 
serve to further sever ties between the various boroughs of the City. Why 
should it be free to go from Brooklyn to Queens but cost to travel from 
Queens to the Bronx? 

5. Motorists pay more than their fair share already and have held up their
end of the "bargain": gas taxes pay for road maintenance and improvements
(when the tax fund is not raided by Albany). As it stands, most of the
tolls on current MTA/TBTA facilities do not pay for improvements or new
facilities, but instead are funneled off to transit; it is profoundly
inequitable to tax (double-tax) a captive market to pay for other aspects
of government which are more politically and functionally difficult to
receive remuneration from. 

6. If the MTA starts showing surpluses again as they have in recent 
years, will the tolls be removed? Or will this be just another 
MTA-created emergency to raise money to cover their failed and 
ineffectual management of the area's transportation needs?

7. The City has not ever and has no plans to serve areas with no
practicable alternative to driving vis a vis mass-transit. City residents
who are already under-served by mass transit, will be further encumbered
by having to not only pay to maintain a car in New York, but to now also
pay a toll so the City can continue to ignore these under-served areas
by using the newly-gained toll revenue to help keep the $2 fare for
commuters in areas already served by transit, at the expense of those who
have no such alternative. 

The current MTA/TBTA tolls are onerous enough, distort traffic patterns,
and result in a more insular and parochial City which benefits no one in
the aggregate. Adding new tolls to the East River facilities are an
obvious and cynical attempt to fund an important and compelling state
interest.  Instead of a money grab from the easiest group of people from
whom the MTA can get a new source of lucrative revenue, it is about time
that the State of New York realize the importance of an effective,
efficient, and viable mass transit system for the "downstate" region, and
find equitable and sustainable solutions to funding mass transit instead
of continuously pitting the motorist against the transit rider as a
short-term, short-sighted, solution. 

I therefore strongly urge you to voice your opposition to any tolling of 
the currently free East River bridges and make all efforts to oppose such 
tolls in favor of more macroscopic, viable, long-term solutions to the 
region's transit needs. 

Thank you!

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Last Update: 04/04/2009