2009-03-27 / Top Stories

'Doomsday' Brings Local Tolls To Bridges

By Nicholas Briano

A Wednesday morning hearing that went on for hours resulted in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) voting 12 to 1 in favor of raising subway, bus and commuter train fares — and ending the rebate program on the Cross Bay Bridge.

To add insult to injury, Rockaway and Broad Channel residents will pay an increased toll of $1.31 each way, up from $1.03. The price charged before the rebate is credited.

Starting July 11, the resident program will be eliminated and base tolls on the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges will rise from $2.50 to $3.25. EZ-Pass customers will see tolls on the two bridges increase from $1.55 to $1.96.

Other significant increases will take effect on May 31. The monthly MetroCard, now $81, will cost $103 and a weekly MetroCard, currently $25, will rise to $31. The base bus and subway fare will rise from $2 to $2.50.

The budget also calls for about 1,000 layoffs resulting from service cuts along subway and bus lines. MTA board members remain hopeful that a state government rider rescue plan could drastically reduce fare hikes, service cuts and layoffs.

Governor Patterson released a statement shortly after the vote.

"Today is a difficult day for the millions of New Yorkers who depend on our mass transit system," Patterson said. "I know my colleagues in the State Legislature are equally committed to preserving New York's critical public transportation system, and we will continue to work together until we reach a final agreement."

Residents of Broad Channel and Rockaway defend the rebate program and say that both communities share schools, hospitals, police precincts, community boards, churches and supermarkets, among other places.

The MTA proposal to revoke the rebate program is estimated to generate $3.6 million a year, a number many residents feel is just a drop in the ocean of MTA debt.

Community leaders contend that an intra-borough toll, and more specifically an intra-zip code toll, which is what the Cross Bay Bridge is, would prevent residents from performing basic civil duties.

The resident rebate program for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents began more than a decade ago for the same reasons that residents don't want it taken away.

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How sad! I remember when it was all free!

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