Passing on Tolls

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sam Schwartz, president of the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission, president and CEO of the traffic planning and engineering firm Sam Schwartz Engineering PLLC and Daily News columnist, and WNYC reporter and Transportation Nation blog director Andrea Bernstein talk about strategies for avoiding tolls, including free bridges and E-Z Pass discounts, and the resignation of MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder. 


Andrea Bernstein and Sam Schwartz

Comments [12]

Peter from Manhattan

Thanks, k.l.sapsin, for presenting a most convincing argument that we need tolls on all bridges! As long as there are bridges without tolls, they will distort traffic patterns by drawing traffic away from major roads (such as West Side Highway) and into residential areas (such as Seaman Ave).

Antisocial little maneuvers like k.l.sapsin's drive-around may save drivers a little bit of money, but residents pay in terms of traffic, noise, and pollution.

Jul. 22 2011 03:29 PM
k.l.sapsin from NYC

better yet--the put out a call for new yorker to tell others the "drive arounds" they use to AVOID paying tolls.

here is mine when driving N from Manhattan:

WSH to Dykeman Exit on RIGHT;
First LEFT to small connector street to Dykeman west extension (toward the Hudson) ; RIGHT onto the Dykeman Extension;
LEFT onto Seaman follow to end;
RIGHT onto 218th;
LEFT onto Broadway, X Bridge to Marble Hill; LEFT onto 238th (at Dunkin Donuts) to end; RIGHT onto bottom of Riverdale Ave;
Follow R. Ave up hill and swing LEFT past all shops to Stop at Statue;
RIGHT onto HH service road;
Follow service road several blocks to:
LEFT re-entry to the HH and then going N.

You are then home free and can proceed NORTH with NO TOLL PAID!

Extra time: 10-15 minutes depending on traffic/time of day.

$ Reward: Figure it out based on # times toll was avoided per wk or month.

Satisfaction Level: HIGH: You just outwitted the Bridge and Tunnel Authority!

Jul. 22 2011 12:39 PM

Brian Lehrer should be commended to asking about the sale of the Vanderbilt Railyard. This 8.4 acre property was bought by Ratner as part of the the 22 acre Atlantic Yards development. After the property was appraised at $214.5 Million (which I consider quite low), Ratner got if for $20 Million down, and another $80 Million over 22 years.

In effect, the MTA is lending money to a billionaire, at the expense of MTA riders. That's a HUGE benefit that Ratner got, something that I don't get as an MTA user.

Keep up the great coverage, Brian!

Jul. 22 2011 11:38 AM
Leo from Queens

One thing you guys don't discuss and probably don't understand or consider is the fact that there is a SIGNIFICANT number of people (probably 100 thousand) who have to commute ACROSS the city for work because there is not a REGIONAL Public system and because most jobs have been pushed out of the City and most people have TEMPORARY jobs EVEN when working for the same company. Is there a study that shows how many people have to travel from Manhattan or outer boroughs to the northern and NJ suburbs?
How many NJ residents have to drive across to the Northern suburbs or to Queens/Brooklyn or even Long Island?
Stop being so Manhattan Centric

Jul. 22 2011 11:04 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

Here in Williamsburg the traffic to/from the Williamsburg Br. is getting even thicker. There is so much noise and fumes from trucks going over the bridge day and night avoiding tolls.

Jul. 22 2011 11:02 AM
Leo from Queens

Andrea, can you remind us as to why the MTA is underfunded?

Could it be that the taxes that have existed all along to fund public transit were diverted to other uses by Pataki and the legislature?

Could it be that Pataki replaced real funding for public transit with elaborate financing that further enriches Wall Street companies?

Could it be that every 6 months there is a push to add additional taxes yet other funding is removed from the MTA?

Could it be the lack of accountability, oversight and corruption with the MTA board?

or should we blame commuters who have seen at least a 50% increase in fares in the past 10 years while seeing a reduction in service across the board?

Jul. 22 2011 10:55 AM
Robert from NYC

Well, N1 is reporting that he will be receiving $2 million in Hong Kong. That was reported on NY1 as recently as 9:00 this morning.

Jul. 22 2011 10:55 AM
Ursula from Brooklyn

to Sam Schwartz: My bible is your drivers' "Guide to Shortcuts In and Around New York City"--I need a revised and updated edition! Any chance of that?

Jul. 22 2011 10:53 AM
John from NYC

Some investigation should take place with the E-Z Pass personnel. I have a relative who had an extremely hard time at the E-Z Pass Office on Staten Island. She's never lived anywhere else, provided the documentation and these people continued to disregard her efforts to get the Staten Island discount like thousands of other residents.

Jul. 22 2011 10:50 AM
Bill from New Rochelle

Does anyone know how much of the toll money actually goes directly to bridge maintenance, & financing; how much goes to support the bloated TBTA, &c; and how much toll money goes to other uses, like subway and MTA subsidy?

Jul. 22 2011 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The best "transportation policy" for the US would be to force people to switch to electric cars or cars running on natural gas. Our country is still too suburbanized for a coherent fast rail policy that makes dollars and sense.

Jul. 22 2011 10:11 AM

I urge WNYC, perhaps for the Transportation site, to immediately invite outgoing MTA Chairman Jay Walder to write a weekly or monthly blog on his experiences in China before Forbes or someone else does.

Mr. Walder, known for his innovation, just resigned to take a related job in an almost opposite environment -- one where he will be able to allow his good ideas to flourish. China has bet that moving large numbers of people quickly and cheaply is a win win, worth any sacrifice, in contrast to the US transport environment. If he has never before lived in China or Asia he is in for some real shocks (every hour). Observing this passionate innovator reach for a chance to let his ideas grow, in alignment with a rich and innovative -- and deeply flawed -- society would surely be fascinating.

Jul. 22 2011 09:36 AM

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