Move NY Toll Reform Picks Up Eight Sponsors in Assembly

Momentum is building in the state assembly for the Move NY toll reform plan. Image: Move NY
Momentum is building in the Assembly for the Move NY toll reform plan. Image: Move NY

Eight more Assembly members are supporting the Move NY toll reform plan, which would cut traffic and raise revenue for transit by increasing the price of driving into the Manhattan core while lowering tolls on outlying bridges. The Move NY bill (A09633) now has 23 sponsors in the 150-member Assembly and four (all Democrats) in the Republican-controlled, 62-member State Senate.

East Harlem Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez introduced legislation in March based on the plan. At the time it had 15 sponsors in the Assembly. A little more than 50 are needed to secure a majority of votes representing the 12-county MTA service region.

Today the coalition announced the support of eight additional assembly members from across the New York metropolitan region: Brian Kavanaugh of Manhattan; Annette Robinson of Brooklyn; Vivian Cook of eastern Queens; Tom Abinanti, David Buchwald, and Amy Paulin of Westchester County; and Earlene Hooper and Fred W. Thiele, Jr. of Long Island.

Two of those legislators — Cook and Hooper — decided to get behind the plan without meeting with proponents, Move NY campaign director Alex Matthiessen told Streetsblog.

“We think the fact that this bill continues to attract attention and assembly members are coming forward to support the plan and put their name on the bill — it suggests that we have growing momentum,” Matthiessen said.

Under the legislation, new toll revenue would be invested in the region’s transportation infrastructure, with $7.3 billion going to the MTA’s five-year capital plan and $4.5 billion going to a new entity called the Transit Gap Investment Fund, which would direct $3.5 billion to subway and bus network improvements and $1 billion to transit access and streetscape improvements in the city. Another $700 million would fund transit improvements in Long Island and the Hudson Valley.

With today’s co-sponsor announcement, the Move NY Coalition also said that Rodriguez will amend the bill to set up separate Transit Gap Investment Fund boards for Long Island and the Hudson Valley, each backed by $350 million.

Mattheissen said the increased local control will hopefully bring more suburban legislators on board. “We didn’t make those changes in a vacuum. We heard from elected officials in the suburbs that they liked the bill but these changes would make it easier for them to give their support.”

Matthiessen expects more legislators from the 12 counties served by the MTA to sign on as co-sponsors in the coming week. In the meantime, he is focused on finding a sponsor in the State Senate.

Ultimately, any campaign for toll reform has to convince Governor Cuomo to sign on. Cuomo has previously said he doesn’t believe the plan is politically viable, but every new sponsor is a chink in that argument.