43rd AD Race: Candidates Weigh In on Tolling East River Bridges

The Move NY Fair Plan, released in February, calls for the tolling of all the East River Bridges with the money raised by the tolls earmarked for public transit and transportation infrastructure improvements.

The New York State legislature and the governor need to approve the Move NY Fair Plan for it to become law so KCP asked the four candidates – Shirley Patterson, Menachem Raitport, Geoffrey Davis and Diana Richardson – running for the vacant 43rd Assembly District seat the following question:

As an assembly member would you vote for the Move NY Fair Plan that includes the tolling of all the East River bridges and why or why not?

Shirley Patterson
Shirley Patterson

Shirley Patterson: “As assemblywoman I would have to say I would not support the Move New York Fair Plan. To me this plan is more about generating revenue then reducing traffic congestion. Even though the higher tolls going into Manhattan and other congested areas might see some drop in traffic, conversely with the reduction of tolls on the other bridges could increase traffic into Brooklyn and other parts of the city mitigating the benefits gained. While still not alleviating the bottlenecks going into Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

“If the true aim of any plan is to relieve the traffic congestion than a more effective solution is to restrict deliveries in Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn and other heavy business districts during both morning and evening rush hours. Other cities around the world instituted this policy with very successful outcomes.

“Yes we do need to improve our mass transit infrastructure, however we need to take a look at the MTA’s books and management. It seems that every MTA capital project takes years longer and billions of dollars of overruns. Even though the east side of Manhattan does need another subway line, the underserved areas of Brooklyn and the other three boroughs are just as critical. We must be more judicious with our limited capital funds by exploring alternative ideas such as light rail. Other cities around the world and in this country have won this route. Light rail is far cheaper and quicker to build.

“For revenues we can look at other alternatives such as adding a surcharge for parking in lower Manhattan in Midtown during rush-hour Monday through Friday. I feel we should try to reinstitute the commuter tax. This tax is probably politically unfeasible so another way is add fees or increase the fares of the Long Island railroad, Metro-North, and at the Hudson River crossings.

“The move New York Fair Plan add has New Yorkers mostly complaining about the traffic congestion, yet the plan really does not address this problem. There are some good ideas in this plan such as reducing the cost for deliveries made by small businesses.

“This isn’t a complete answer because our transportation and mass transit system is a complicated matter with many moving parts in our campaign has not focused on this issue. Once an elected me and my staff will definitely take a closer look and will be able to give you a much better answer.”

Menachmen (Mendy) Raitport
Menachmen (Mendy) Raitport

Menachem Raitport: “Absolutely not! New York City is already of the most expensive cities to live in and the hard-working voters of the 43rd Assembly district do not need the MTA stealing more of their money.  When the tolls were first proposed, the money raised was to be used solely for the cost of the bridges. Now the money is used and “misused” by the government for all kinds of projects that are not improving the lives of the people of the neighborhoods in the 43rd Assembly district. Look at the Verrazano Bridge toll if you want an example of how the MTA, once they get their claws on the taxpayers throats don’t let go.

“To me, the question is very simple. What is the major issue facing this community?  The answer is unaffordability. Weather its affordable housing, affordable education or just the general cost of living here in Brooklyn, life is just too expensive. To add another burden on the people of Crown Heights, Lefferts Gardens, Bed Stuyvesant and East Flatbush is unconscionable.
“A wise man once said “The Rent is Too Damn High” right on Brother, right on. So are the damn tolls.”
Geoffrey Davis
Geoffrey Davis

Geoffrey Davis: “I would not vote for it. The city and the state always talks about infrastructure improvements while taking our money and we rarely see any improvements. New York City is already too expensive to live here. It (Move NY Fair Plan) looks like another way to gentrify and movie out the middle class and poor people. We need to focus more on putting programs together for our young people and keeping them out of jail, improving our education system and strengthening our rent stabilization laws.

The state and city need to communicate more about putting capital money into any MTA infrastructure improvements and stop taking away more money from the people. We need more transparency with the MTA board and their continuing to raise fares. The state legislature should vote on raising the fares instead of leaving the power to do it with the MTA board.

“Additionally, the MTA needs to improve the bus service on the Nostrand Avenue corridor. We’ve gotten countless complaints from seniors waiting at bus stops like on Nostrand and Sterling Place where the B44 select bus service passes them five to one before a regular local bus comes.”

Diana Richardson did not respond to the question.

The special election is May 5.


More from Around New York