Not everyone’s in favor of adding tolls to all the East River crossings, but according to transit advocates, it could help make it much easier to get around the city.
The MoveNY plan, created by leading transportation engineer “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, is an overarching transportation plan that aims to create more than $1.3 billion per year to make transit improvements across New York City, which will have a major impact on Queens.
“It is a wide-sweeping plan for creating funding to help preserve our bridges, tunnels, improve our mass transit, and improve the roads in the local area,” said John Maier, co-chair of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Public Transit Services Committee and member of the Riders Alliance.
Maier and Masha Burina, organizer with Riders Alliance, introduced the MoveNY plan to the members of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) during their monthly meeting on Thursday, June 2, to explain how this plan would benefit those traveling in, around and through Queens.
MoveNY seeks to fairly toll the bridges and roads across the city by instituting tolls and fees to travel on the free East River bridges and below 60th Street in Manhattan. It would also reduce tolls on certain bridges and tunnels operated by the MTA. This means five out of the six bridges in Queens would see a reduction of tolls by up to 48 percent, with only the Queensboro Bridge, which is currently free, seeing a toll installed.
“MoveNY offers us the much needed chance to reorganize the incentive systems on our roadways,” said Macartney Morris, Riders Alliance member and Astoria resident, in a statement. “I look forward to the day when motorists do not unnecessarily divert their routes through Astoria and Long Island City — bringing congestion, pollution and often unsafe speeding — on their way to the ‘free bridge.’”
Under MoveNY, Queens could see $15-20 million in discretionary funds which could be used to enhance transportation stations with elevators, and creating bike lanes and bus shelters. There would be an investment in G train capital improvements, including an extension of the line to Queensboro Plaza.
There would also be potential for a brand-new rail line, the “Triboro RX,” which would connect Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx; new ferries between Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan; new Select Bus Service and express bus routes; new Newtown Creek bike and pedestrian lanes; and a Long Island Rail Road conversion between Jamaica and Barclays Center.
This plan is more than just a pipe dream. MoveNY has legislation introduced in the Assembly and currently has 28 sponsors, including Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, who has co-sponsored the bill.
“Assembly Bill A.9633, the new Move NY plan, represents an essential step in revamping public transportation in New York City,” Hevesi said in a statement to Riders Alliance. “This bill will provide a much-needed consistent revenue stream for our mass transit system, which is in decline despite the continued fare increases of the past few years. Through statutorily dedicated funds for Queens County, this bill goes beyond the vague promises that came with the last congestion pricing plan from a few years ago, offering a tangible path to change for this system.”