2008-11-21 / Top Stories

MTA: Free Cross Bay Bridge Ride Is Over

Agency Will Vote For Change Next Month By Howard Schwach

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is trying to lessen its cash flow problems by taking away one of the most important perks given to Rockaway and Broad Channel residents - the free ride over the Veterans Memorial Cross Bay Bridge that connects Rockaway with the rest of Queens.

"Elimination of the resident rebate program at Cross Bay Bridge is, at this point, a proposed cut that the MTA board will vote on next month," said the agency's spokesperson, Joyce Mulvaney on Thursday. "The MTA's proposed budget cuts address significant budget gaps in 2009 and beyond due to plummeting tax revenues, higher fuel costs and elevated debt service obligations."

The special resident rebate program for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents was begun more than a decade ago because the bridge was the only one in the city to connect two communities within the same borough, and because many Broad Channel residents had to travel to Rockaway to access schools, police and fire services, and religious institutions.

The program used the EZ-Pass device to remove the cost of the toll only for local residents who were registered in the program. Those without EZ-Pass continued to pay the full price.

Other budget changes will impact Rockaway residents as well. Both subway and express fares will rise, express buses to $7.50 for a one-way ride from the present $5.00. While officials did not detail what the cost of a subway ride would be, they used a figure of a 23 percent raise across the board as an indicator.

In addition, other bridge tolls are expected to rise, and tolls will be added to the East River crossings that do not presently have tolls.

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