Senate Dems Denounce Bridge Tolls as Doomsday Draws Closer
While the looming MTA doomsday scenario is desperate enough that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has put forward a proposal to charge drivers roughly the same as transit riders to cross East and Harlem River bridges, Democrats over in the Senate are balking at the prospect of requiring drivers to give up their free rides. The Daily News reports on yesterday’s Ravitch plan talks.
"If that is in there, there’s no way I’m going to vote for it and you can take that to the bank," Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx) said after the afternoon meeting.
Streetsbloggers may remember Diaz as one of the legislators who opposed congestion pricing on the grounds that it may adversely affect the environment. His district faces a slew of subway and bus service reductions [PDF] without transit funding equal to that proposed under the Ravitch plan, but Diaz is as yet unwilling to stand up for the whopping 67 percent of households that don’t even own a car.
Ditto Brooklyn’s Carl Kruger, another congestion pricing opponent, who has called tolling "a non-starter" and "an insult to every outer-borough resident in New York City." Kruger should check his census data. Almost half of the households in his district alone are car-free, and those who own cars have an annual income that more than doubles those who don’t. Yet it seems Kruger is willing to let the non-driving half of his constituency bear the brunt [PDF]. But what should we expect from the legislator who wanted to fine pedestrians for listening to iPods and talking on cell phones.
It’s still unclear where Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith stands on bridge tolls. Smith’s own Queens district, where some 34 percent of households don’t own cars, also stands to lose bus and train service in lieu of increased MTA funding [PDF]. Like his counterpart Shelly Silver, Smith owes it to his constituents and all New Yorkers to come out strongly in favor of bridge tolls and gain majority support.