By Bill Parry
Move NY Fair Plan, the congestion pricing plan that would bring tolls to East River crossings to raise funds for MTA infrastructure repairs, has gained a powerful backer.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) has joined more than three dozen city and state lawmakers who have endorsed the Move NY Fair Plan as the best solution for reducing traffic congestion and funding much-needed subway upgrades.
“We’ve seen massive congestion problems both on the subway cars and platforms of the 7 train themselves, and then in addition to that in the runup to the Queensboro Bridge,” Van Bramer said. “That’s why I’m saying now we need to focus on this investment into our mass transit. The Move NY plan is the best and most responsible way to get us there. This is a responsible way to ensure that the MTA’s needs are fully funded on an ongoing basis without putting a financial burden on the backs of riders.”
Move NY is a diverse coalition of stakeholders representing regional business associations, civic leaders, trade unions, transportation and environmental advocates and good- governance organizations. Its Fair Plan would generate revenue while bringing toll equity to the region’s commuters and businesses while reducing grinding traffic jams.
Developed by transportation guru, “Gridlock” Sam Schwatz, the former city traffic commissioner and former chief engineer at the city Department of Transportation, the Move NY Fair Plan plan would generate $1.35 billion annually, cut down on traffic and pay for repairs to stations on the No. 7 subway line, which the Citizens Budget Commission called the worst stations in the city. Schwartz explained why it makes sense in Van Bramer’s district during a powerful presentation at the LIC Summit in June.
“All the traffic leaves the Long Island Expressway at Van Dam Street and snakes through all of the roads in Sunnyside and Long Island City trying to get to the free Queensboro Bridge instead of paying a toll at the Queens Midtown Tunnel,” Schwartz said. “These are high crash areas and the 180,000 vehicles a day adds plenty of air pollution. No neighborhood would benefit more from Move NY than Long Island City.”
Alex Matthiessen, Move NY’s campaign director, called Van Bramer’s endorsement a major shot in the arm. He becomes the 13th City Council member to back the plan.
“As the City Council’s majority leader and a widely respected member of the Queens delegation, his support is especially meaningful and significant,” Matthiessen said. “Majority Leader Van Bramer has done his homework and like a growing number of New Yorkers has come to the conclusion that the Move NY Fair Plan is the best and only option for reducing traffic, improving transit and securing a sustainable revenue stream to maintain and expand out transportation network. We look forward to working with Majority Leader Van Bramer and other elected officials to make Move NY a reality for the millions of riders and drivers who rely on our subways, buses, roads, bridges, and commuter rail to get around this great city.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr