30 Issues Day 19: Tolls and Taxes on Drivers and Suburban Transportation

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In both New Jersey and New York, the balance between drivers and mass transit can make for tricky policy-making. Kate Slevin of the Tri-State Transportation Commission, discusses the Bloomberg and Corzine records on gas taxes; tolls; suburban transit; and more. Plus, when it comes to transportation, Staten Island is uniquely affected by both NJ and New York policy decisions. State Senator Diane Savino on what's important to her constituents.


Diane Savino and Kate Slevin

Comments [27]

Cap'n Transit from Queens

Thanks, TJ, for your insightful question that went over the heads of all the guests! I blogged about it here:

Oct. 19 2009 12:59 AM

Barbara- How does the LIRR get its funding? Any involvement perhaps by income taxes, property taxes, etc? I'm betting that LIRR has more funding per passenger/per mile than NJT.

Thank you Brian, for emphasizing the obvious: making transit more attractive gets more people out of their cars, making driving better for those who continue to drive.

Oct. 17 2009 06:23 AM
LF from warwick, NY

Are you aware that the NY State has just required that self employed people who do business in NY "within the Metropolitan Commuter transportation District" which consists of the five boroughs of NYC, and counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester , have to pay an additional tax this year and into the future? It is a scandal.
I propose that they attach air meters to our backs and tax us for breathing.

Oct. 16 2009 12:38 PM
gary from Park Slope

Actually, the map is slightly off-TJ wisely takes Eastern Parkway just a bit further, and use the Prospect Park loop and Ocean Parkway bike path, rather than Washington St and Ocean Ave. as the map suggests

Oct. 16 2009 10:49 AM
Barry Kloda from Boerum Hill - at work

TJ -- nice route! As another veteran bicyclist I like how you aim for the green spaces, something that does refresh the senses. But, being the practical sort that I can be, I would be tempted to cut off the "corner" that takes you through Prospect Park, and head through Brownsville & the edge of Flatbush (but would have to consider the road surfaces -- some around there are brutal!).

Keep on pedaling....

Oct. 15 2009 12:08 PM
TJ, Tal Zimm from boro park

Oh, and shame on Bloomberg for leaving the roads in such horrible shape! He should get out more often.

Oct. 15 2009 11:09 AM
TJ, Tal Zimm from boro park

[[Hey TJ - We made a map that highlights your route for all to see. Check it out - there's a link above! Thanks for posting.
-BL Show-]]

My bike ride from Flushing to Boro Park is easy and very dangerous (only for the skilled urban-combat biker).

Start by 1) crossing the Van Wyck Exprwy @ Jewel Ave,
2) onto Queens Blvd
3) onto Burns st and straight up to Forest Hills Park for the scenic route
4) exit park onto Park Ln S and 76th St
5) to Jamaica Ave (now be CAREFUL!!)
6) Jamaica Ave to Atlantic Ave and figure out how to get to Eastern Parkway
7) Eastern Parkway all the way to Prospect Park for more scenery and finally breathe easy (stretch those legs)
8) Out and whiff the horse stables whilst getting to Ocean Parkway and the home stretch and Ave J.

I ride with lots of really bright lights during the day and night, bright clothing, and incredible amounts of adrenaline that would otherwise be hard to enjoy in my car.

See you there

Oct. 15 2009 11:07 AM
mk from rockaway

@what now: I am talking about the MTA train that runs from St. George (the fairy terminal) to Tottenville. That train is FREE to ride for anyone -- you do not require a fare and there is no where to pay one, either. There are no turnstyles, no cashiers, etc. It is a free train.

If you are actually on SI and driving around -- well this just goes to show how "blissfully ignorant" some people choose to be.

Oct. 15 2009 10:58 AM
Rich K from Union City

One - the total cost of mass transit is less than driving. The costs are more deeply embedded, and so they are not counted completely.
Two - mass transit through out Metro NY suffers from last mile syndrome. My wife commutes from Union City to Glen Rock in north Jersey, and could use mass transit except for the last 1.2 miles, so she instead drives 17 miles each way, even though NJT rail runs along side her office building on it's way to the unaccessible station. Years ago, the MTA did a study that showed they could double accessibility with only a few miles of additional track. Do it.

Oct. 15 2009 10:53 AM
Barbara from Monmouth Beach, NJ

I just moved to NJ from Long Island, NY & am shocked at the lack of access to NJ transit. When I lived in Town of Huntington, NY, an annual parking ticket was $35; in Little Silver, NJ, it is $360!!! Also, in Huntington, there was no wait for a permit; here in Little Silver you can only apply in Nov for a possible spot for 2010. Then the trains themselves in NJ Transit -- extremely uncomfortable. The LIRR (Long Island RR) has ergonomic seats in their new trains. And to top it all off, NJ transit tickets cost more for a comparable distance. NEW JERSEY MASS TRANSIT IS A DISASTER. NEEDS FIXING.

Oct. 15 2009 10:53 AM
what now?

@ Mk..
what free train are you talking about?
and the ferry is free but the bus/train to the ferry isn't free as far as I can tell.

Oct. 15 2009 10:53 AM
Paul from Ridgewood NJ

I forgot to add that the cost of collecting tolls is an ENORMOUS percentage of the toll collected. This expense would go away completely. We still paid a fortune for the EZ-Pass boondoggle, but we can't make that go away in any case.

Oct. 15 2009 10:51 AM
the truth from bkny

Poor spoiled new yorkers! try living in atlanta or houston where the transit systems are less than adequate as the norm!

Handicapped persons call access-a-ride!

Oct. 15 2009 10:50 AM
mk from rockaway

Can I point out that the one guest is *mistaken or LYING* about Staten Island ("it cost money to leave"). Not only is the fairy free, there is also an elevated train that runs the whole length of the island AND THAT IS FREE TOO! Why LIE??

Oct. 15 2009 10:49 AM
Ryan from Brooklyn

I work out of my car (not by choice), and occasionally enjoy using it for weekend trips, but I also believe that driving should be disincentivized. Give me congestion pricing, east river tolls, gas taxes, and permit parking for certain neighborhoods-- money that could help fund MTA improvements and projects, including a subway line for Staten Island.

Oct. 15 2009 10:49 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

How about more bike lanes?! Bloomberg blathers about biking. But bike lanes are just used as passing lanes by cars, or as a freezone to throw car doors open.

Oct. 15 2009 10:49 AM
kai from NJ-NYC

Gas tax - let's raise it. Put the money raised into substantial transit projects that can be pointed to and used in more suburban areas.

Increase intra-state NJ mass transit (city to city, town to town) and not just NJ to Manhattan transit.

Oct. 15 2009 10:49 AM
Chris from New York

Diane Savino

Why, why does the HOV Lane close at 10 a.m.?? Especially on the BQE which is always under construction? When the HOV lane is closed I can expect an additional 30-40 minutes more on the bus. Congestion on the BQE is unbelievable!! Can't anything be done about this?

Forget about the ferry, as religious extremist have taken over the boats. Ms. Savino knows about this mess too.

Oct. 15 2009 10:48 AM
Michael from Long Island

Why is mass transit so expensive? No one wants to talk about the fact that the average MTA worker in New York makes $52,000 a year and the average bus or subway operator makes $63,000. that's not counting their pension and health benefits (

We need to put MTA worker's salaries/benefits on the table not just toll and fair increases.

Oct. 15 2009 10:47 AM
Paul from Ridgewood NJ

A gas tax is the only fair and truly progressive way to tax driving. It automatically charges you when you drive more, and charges you more per mile for guzzling gas. I agree with Jason above. Get rid of tolls and tax gasoline. Taxes in NJ are lower than surrounding states, and I'm sure the cost would still be no higher than any adjoining state. So there would be no incentive for drivers to leave NJ to get gasoline and avoid the tax.

Oct. 15 2009 10:44 AM
Andrea from Hoboken

If you think these funds wont be squandered and actually go to mass transit - and by that I mean actual infrastructure and not just padding union compensation, you have to be living under a rock.

Oct. 15 2009 10:44 AM
Arlene from NJ

I would support a higher gas tax if it is guaranteed the money will go to the transportation trust fund and not used for other issues.

A higher gas tax is more equitable than raising tolls because not everyone utilizes the toll roads. Also, people who have more fuel efficient vehicles will pay less and those with less fuel efficient vehicles will pay accordingly.

Oct. 15 2009 10:44 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

How many people by a car or choose a college or a television or any consumer good or service and think "I should get everything I want and need without paying more"?

If we don't think we should get something for nothing in cars or cameras or colleges, then why the hell does anyone think that roads or subways should be free or near-free?

Oct. 15 2009 10:44 AM
hjs from 11211

drivers fell picked on? boo woo! do they know they are a cancer: global warming and terrorism can be (partly) blamed on them.

Oct. 15 2009 10:43 AM
Sandra from Manhattan

As a Democrat, I am getting increasingly fed up with what seems like the constant drum beat of our party to get involved in social engineering and nannying the citizens of this country... I guess they are turning me libertarian... never thought that would happen. But seriously, I don't think I will vote Democrat for the first time in my life next time around if things keep going like this.

Oct. 15 2009 10:43 AM
Jason from NJ

How about eliminating tolls in NJ and adding the tax to gas? (except for major crossings/bridges)
Share the fee equally across the state instead of just on drivers near highways. I'm from CT and I hate all the tolls here.

Oct. 15 2009 09:21 AM

AIG gets 85 Billion dollars with a phone call. MTA has been lobbying for years for funding. Much less than that will pay for all of their projects. And then the public actually sees some benefits. America has its priorities all wrong.

Oct. 15 2009 08:46 AM

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