2010-10-22 / Front Page

MTA Toll Hike Hearing 10/25

By Nicholas Briano
Now that the much dreaded MTA fare hikes have been approved, the agency has its eyes set on raising the tolls on various bridges and tunnel crossings, including Rockaway’s two crossings.

This Monday, October 25, the MTA board will vote on a set of proposals that will increase the toll for the Cross Bay Bridge and the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.

The MTA will choose between two proposals involving the crossings, one of which avoids raising the tolls on E-Z Pass users entirely. This proposal will raise the cash toll to $3.50, increased from $2.75. It will keep the fare for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents at the current rate of $1.13 each way. The first two trips across the Cross Bay Bridge will still be charged to E-Z Pass under this proposal. Subsequent trips will remain free of charge.

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer expressed support this week for the proposal to eliminate a toll increase for E-Z Pass motorists.

“The Cash-Only Hike Plan (COH) is the only option the MTA should be considering. This option would prevent EZ Pass users from enduring another toll increase,” Pheffer said this week.

The second proposal is the original one released over the summer months that called for an increase for both E-Z Pass and cash paying motorists. Increases under this proposal will bring the cash toll on both Rockaway crossings to $3.00 and increase the E-Z Pass toll by 17 cents to $1.88 each way. Rockaway and Broad Channel residents will still enjoy the resident discount but will see an increase as well under this plan. The resident toll will rise from $1.13 to $1.24 each way.

“This [proposal] would have a crippling effect on the already overburdened residents of my community,” Pheffer added.

That burden she’s referring to is the termination of the Cross Bay Bridge resident rebate program, which ended in July and granted free access over the bridge for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents. The MTA came to a solution at that time to charge for the first two trips each day, leaving any additional crossings within the same day free of charge.

Despite what many in the community considered a successful rally earlier this month over the Cross Bay Bridge to protest the revocation of the resident rebate program, MTA has announced no immediate plans to consider granting the program back to residents.

The MTA says the proposal to only penalize cash users with a toll increase is meant to provide an incentive to motorists to use the more convenient and price competitive E-Z Pass device. The agency recognizes that cash users cause congestion at toll plazas and its transactions are more expensive to process than the E-Z Pass.

Pheffer says she will testify to the MTA board this Monday. She is calling on all residents to join her at the MTA headquarters at 9:00 a.m. at 47 Madison Avenue, 5th floor. Those who cannot attend can submit testimony through the MTA’s website at http://mta-nyc.custhelp.com or fax to 212-878-7468. Pheffer is also accepting testimonies at her office at 90-16 Rockaway Beach Boulevard to submit on your behalf.

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