East River/Harlem River Bridge Tolls

2008 - The "Ravitch Plan"

In 2008, a state commission released a report (the "Ravitch Plan") outlining ways to fund the MTA.

The report recommended adding tolls on the East River bridges -- set at a rate equal to the MTA's tolled East River crossings -- and Harlem River bridge tolls equivalent to a single-ride subway fare.

Such tolls could fully cover the cost of bridge maintenance and raise an additional $600 million a year to expand transit service and keep fares affordable.

Most people traveling into Manhattan pay a fee. For most, it is the cost of a subway or bus ride from the Bronx and parts north, Queens, Brooklyn, or Staten Island. Others pay a toll on the George Washington or Triborough (now the RFK) Bridges or the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. But a significant number of drivers pay nothing, because they use the untolled East River and Harlem River bridges.

These "free" bridges, including the Manhattan Bridge, 59th Street Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, and Williamsburg Bridge, cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in annual maintenance and exacerbate air pollution in bordering communities. Drivers wishing to bypass existing tolled crossings into Manhattan's central business district congest the local streets of some communities in the Bronx, East Harlem, Williamsburg/Greenpoint, and Downtown Brooklyn to get into the CBD instead.

Tolls on East River and Harlem River bridges would help transit riders and drivers alike, with added benefits for the community at large. Directing toll revenue to transit would help prevent fare increases and service cuts and generate funds to expand the transit network, encouraging more people to use the system and leave their cars at home.


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