2009-05-15 / Front Page

CBB Victory Is Finalized By MTA Board

By Nicholas Briano

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board of Directors voted on Monday to finalize the bailout agreement reached last week by New York State legislators, which cements a key victory for the residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel that ensures the Cross Bay Bridge (CBB) resident rebate program stays in tact.

The MTA had threatened to revoke the rebate program, thereby forcing Rockaway and Broad Channel residents to pay for the bridge after more than ten years of crossing for free.

Politicians, community leaders and local residents were loudly outspoken against the threat of removing the rebate program, arguing that residents of Broad Channel and Rockaway would have to pay to perform basic civil duties such as going to school, hospitals, police precincts, community boards, churches and supermarkets, among other places.

The elimination of residents' free ride would have generated only $3.6 million of the MTA's estimated $1.2 billion budget deficit.

Even though motorists of Rockaway and Broad Channel are advantaged by the deal, mass transit riders still face a ten percent increase in their fares. The Board also approved another ten percent toll increase for bridges and tunnels. The fares on subways and buses will change on June 28 and the bridge and tunnel tolls will increase on July 12.

"Today we implemented a bittersweet solution that comes with additional pain for our customers, our employees and those who live and work in our region," H. Dale Hemmerdinger, chairman of the MTA Board, said in a press release Monday. "But it will, at least for the short term, prevent the Armageddon that loomed large when we last met."

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