Free Bridges — Will They Be History?
It was always nice to have the option– pay for the Midtown Tunnel and get to the Village or Midtown faster, or battle with 59th Street Bridge or the BQE, and the crowded Williamsburg Bridge — but save the toll. Sometimes, it was six of one and half-a-dozen of the other, because you could burn so much gas on the BQE backup that you might as well have paid the tolland sometimes the choice was clear. But you had the choice!
Now, they want to put a toll on previously-free bridges, as an alternative to raising MTA fares. When I first heard, it seemed like a plan; we should be taking more mass-transit anyway! And of course, Bloomberg now has a platform to yell at us like naughty children — on the news, he said something like “See? I had the perfect solution — congestion pricing — and you didn’t want that” Okay, Uncle Mike — we get the point. So here’s another way we can stick it to the “bridge-and-tunnel” crowd.
But here’s what I want to know: let’s say they DO work out a method to collect tolls [since toll-booths are near-impossible, they are talking about a machine that will read your license plate, and bill the driver later -- good luck!], how high do we have to raise the stakes before people WILL say “hmmm…..this is just like congestion-pricing after all. AND, congestion pricing wasn’t supposed to be in effect on the weekends anyway. Are they thinking of making the 59th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges free on weekends? My guess is “no”.
In other words, was it the intention all along to present options to the “bridge-and-tunnel” crowd [of which I am one, by the way] that turn out to be just as bad, or even worse for private cars, than congestion pricing? And how high can the stakes go, before car-dependent suburbanites will finally load their families onto commuter railroads for their day in the city? What is the tipping point when private drivers will leave the cars home?