In March 2016, Assemblyman Robert Rodriquez and 14 co-sponsors introduced legislation in the NYS Assembly to implement the Move NY Fair Plan. No Republicans were willing to sponsor it in the NYS Senate. Neither Governor Cuomo nor Mayor de Blasio exerted much, if any, political will to promote its passage. By the end of the legislative session, no action occurred on the plan.
The MoveNY Fair Plan was developed by transportation and planning advocates to address the growing crisis in the City’s transportation system, which suffers from inadequate service, crumbling infrastructure, soaring fares and tolls, and an insufficient funding mechanism. Due to declining government funding, the MTA has used bonds to pay for its operations and capital projects, which has resulted in four fare and toll increases since 2009 to cover the increased debt burden. The chronic underfunding of the region’s transportation system contributes to massive traffic congestion, which costs the local economy an estimated $16 billion annually, according to the MoveNY sponsors.
MoveNY was formed to build support for a master transportation plan for the metropolitan region and is a coalition of regional business groups, trade unions, community leaders, and transportation and environmental advocates, among others. The plan would establish a more equitable system for generating revenue to maintain and improve the transit and highway network by equalizing tolls throughout the city and dedicating those revenues to transportation improvements. Currently, drivers crossing bridges in the outer boroughs, where transit options are scarce, pay high tolls while motorists crossing the East River bridges into Manhattan’s core incur no tolls, even though transit options in and to Manhattan are readily available and traffic congestion there is the worst.
Under the MoveNY Plan, motorists would pay $5.54 with EZPass (or $8 without EZPass) to enter or exit Manhattan south of 60th Street but would incur reduced tolls on most East River crossings with origins or destinations outside of the core. The plan would lower existing tolls on seven MTA bridges, including the Verrazano, Throgs Neck and Whitestone. Taxis and other for-hire vehicles would be surcharged for trips south of 96th Street on the East Side and south of 110th Street on the West Side. E-Z Pass would collect tolls electronically, while vehicles without E-Z Pass would be charged by optical scanners. Tolls could also be adjusted for “time of day” so that tolls could be reduced during off peak periods, such as evenings and weekends.
The Plan would raise an estimated $1.5 billion annually: 25% would be used to improve roads and bridges, particularly the four East River bridges, and 75% would go towards transit projects. Transit improvements could include technology that would allow the MTA to increase the frequency of train service, the installation of a new contact-less fare collection system, and expanded bus service.
The Move NY Plan would require enabling legislation from the State. In March 2015, the BHA conducted a community survey and received 250 responses, of which 72% supported the plan. The BHA board approved a motion in April 2015 in favor of the MoveNY Plan contingent on Residential Permit Parking being implemented to ensure that drivers from other areas do not park on Brooklyn Heights streets to complete their journey into Manhattan by train. The board also called for restoring the B51 bus service connecting downtown Brooklyn to Manhattan.