Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) has introduced legislation that authorizes the City of New York and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to implement the Move NY Fair Plan.
Senate Bill 8089 (S8089) is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that, if enacted, will raise an estimated $1.31 billion in new, annual revenue and, when bonded, will generate over $10 billion for modernizing our transit system, including a Transit Gap Investment Fund (TGIF) of up to $4.5 billion to expand public transit and improve accessibility for millions of New Yorkers, particularly those who live in so-called “transit deserts.” Moreover, the legislation will establish a first-ever dedicated fund for improving and maintaining the City’s dilapidated roads and bridges that will receive an infusion of $375 million a year in perpetuity.
“This bill will transform the City and region’s transportation system allowing New York to at last move firmly into the 21st Century and compete with other global cities,” said Senator Andrew Lanza. “For too long, New Yorkers have tolerated an antiquated and unreliable transit system – and the situation is getting worse not better. Moreover, many of our drivers have been punished by an unjust tolling regime where those with the worst transit access are paying the highest tolls, while others who also benefit from our city’s road and bridge infrastructure travel for free. Not only will this bill create a fairer tolling system but it will generate the kind of revenue we need to be able to bring new transit service to those communities who have long suffered without it – in places like Eastern and Southeastern Queens, South Brooklyn, the East Bronx and, of course, Staten Island.”
In introducing the bill, Senator Lanza signaled his plan to use the coming months to reconcile the few differences between the two bills. The Assembly version, (A9633), is carried by Assemblyman Rodriguez who is working to obtain the support needed from his colleagues to pass it in the 2017 Legislative Session.
Senator Lanza said, “I’m pleased that Assemblyman Rodriguez’s bill and my bill are very close and I look forward to working with him in the coming months to marry the two bills and do the work needed to pass the bills in both houses. I am confident that working together, and with the help of the Move NY coalition’s seventy-five-plus partners, we will at last bring about an effective solution to New York’s many transportation challenges.”
Under the Lanza bill (S8089), the plan’s CBD tolls (across 60th Street and the six East River crossings) will be reduced to the current equivalent of $5.00 for E-ZPass users (a reduction from the current $5.54). This variation in toll price represents one difference between the Lanza bill and the Rodriguez bill (A09633), the latter of which also pegs the newly tolled crossings to match the toll rates at the Queens-Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnels – but does not seek to alter the latter’s toll price at the time the “toll swap” is implemented, estimated to take place in 2019.
“I also included language in the bill which makes the Staten Island Resident Verrazano Discount program permanent, as well as provisions requiring the MTA to be subjected to annual independent audits,” said Senator Lanza. “The Move NY Fair Plan bill will ensure that the Staten Island resident toll for the Verrazano Bridge will be pegged, adjusted for inflation, at the lowest level ever,” continued Lanza. “The bill also provides hundreds of millions of dollars that will be available for Staten Island transportation initiatives such as SI North BRT construction, study of the West Shore BRT option, express bus service expansion, new ferry service lines and road improvements across the borough.”
Senator Lanza acknowledged that the CBD toll discounts will reduce the total amount of revenue the Move NY Fair Plan raises but said he hopes to persuade Assemblyman Rodriguez on the merits of the discount and work with the Assemblyman to figure out how to make up for the loss of revenue – or reduce the revenue allocated to transit investments – once they sit down to reconcile the two bills this summer. Senator Lanza and Assemblyman Rodriguez plan to use the coming months to reconcile the two bills and introduce a pair of “same as” bills in the Senate and Assembly early next year. They will also use the time, with the help of the Move NY Coalition, to increase the ranks of bill co-sponsors in each house.
The TGIF is specifically designed to expand service in parts of the City where there’s no subway service and inadequate bus service. For the first time in the City’s history, elected representatives will work with their communities and with the MTA and NYCDOT to set priorities for transit investment in their districts, assuring that communities suffering from poor transit access will finally see some relief. The TGIF will have a board comprised of the following State and City elected officials, or their appointees: the Governor, Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the Assembly, Mayor of New York City, five Borough Presidents, New York City Council Speaker, and Council’s Transportation Committee Chair.
Inter-borough projects to be considered by the board for approval include the Triboro Rx subway line connecting Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx; capital improvements on the G train; conversion of LIRR’s Atlantic line between Brooklyn and Queens to subway service; new ferries and Express Bus service; Staten Island North Shore Bus Rapid Transit; and new bike and pedestrian lanes on the Verrazano and Brooklyn bridges.
The legislation also addresses a widespread concern that some subway stations and bus stops have historically received far more attention than others. The legislation will earmark $1 billion dollars for local projects to be allocated equitably among Community Districts in all five boroughs. Each district will have $15-$21 million to work with to make their transit hubs more accessible based on priority needs (e.g., repaired stairways, station elevators, bus shelters, Vision Zero streetscaping).
Likewise, a pair of $350 million Transit Gap Investment Funds will be established for Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley, which elected representatives of those two areas will use to subsidize county bus service, establish Express Bus service, and improve access to commuter rail by increasing parking capacity at select stations, adding shuttle service, and adopting other strategies for facilitating the use of LIRR and Metro North service.
To ease the burden on working New Yorkers living in transit-challenged communities, $110 million a year will be directed to underwrite substantial fare reductions on traditionally more expensive modes of transit such as Express Buses (dollar off current fares) and intra-city commuter rail (extension of City Ticket to seven days per week and adoption of “Freedom Ticket” multimode metrocard).
The legislation is modeled after the Move NY Fair Plan, developed by “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz and the Move NY coalition, which proposes lowering tolls on all MTA bridges – that connect areas where there tends to be less traffic and fewer transit options – and restoring or adding tolls to crossings in areas where there is more traffic and better transit options – i.e., the Triboro, Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Verrazano, Gil Hodges, Cross Bay, and Henry Hudson bridges. Crossing into and out of Manhattan’s central business district via bridge or across 60th Street will be tolled at the same rate as the Queens Midtown and the Brooklyn Battery tunnels, which, by harmonizing the tolls, will eliminate bridge shopping and the increased asthma and vehicle crash caused injury and fatality rates that go with it.
To assuage concerns that the reduced tolls could revert back after the new tolls are implemented, the legislation locks in the ratio of newly lowered “outer bridge” tolls to the central business district tolls such that if the MTA were to ignore the ratios in future toll setting, the new tolls on the central business district bridges and along 60th Street would automatically be revoked, thus guaranteeing that the ratio won’t be violated.
With the installation of gateless tolls and the reduction of traffic, vehicle travel speeds are estimated to improve by up to 18% in Manhattan south of Central Park and up to 8% in areas outside the central business district – e.g., in Brooklyn, Queens and Northern Manhattan.
For-hire vehicles are exempt from business district tolling but will add a surcharge when traveling within the “taxi exclusionary zone” – Manhattan south of 96th Street on the east side of Central Park and south of 110th Street on the west side of the park. Tolls on all commercial vehicles will be capped at one round-trip toll per day (i.e., per 24-hour period) in order to facilitate business activity. In an earlier report, the independent economic research firm HR&A Advisors estimated the Move NY Fair Plan would create 30,500 new, annually recurring local jobs.
Assemblyman Rodriguez’s bill already enjoys 29 co-sponsors representing every borough of New York City as well as both Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
"I’m delighted that Senator Lanza has introduced his own version of the Move NY Fair Plan bill and look forward to working with him in the coming weeks and months to reconcile our two bills and build the support we’ll need in our respective houses to enact into law a unified version early next year,” said Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez (Manhattan, 68th District). “This legislation would transform the City and region’s transportation infrastructure and I’m excited to get to work with Senator Lanza to make it a reality.”
“We are pleased to have Senator Lanza as our lead sponsor in the New York State Senate,” said Alex Matthiessen, Move NY campaign director and president of Blue Marble Project. “With his sterling reputation, ability to work across party lines, and commitment to investing in New York City’s infrastructure, Senator Lanza is the ideal champion to carry the Move NY bill in the Senate. Now that we have a two-house bill with bipartisan support – and no viable alternatives for funding the region’s mass transit – we are optimistic that Albany will finally pass this historic legislation early next year. We thank Senator Lanza for his leadership and look forward to working with him and Assemblyman Rodriguez to build the support we’ll need in Albany to enact this important initiative into law and #GetNYMoving again.”
State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens), the first senator to publicly endorse the plan, said, "I truly believe the Move New York Fair Plan is a common sense, long-term solution to a problem that has persisted for decades. Tolls on some bridges and tunnels have increased, as has the standard fare to ride New York's subway and bus system. Move New York brings equality to the costs borne by commuters, and it will increase street safety by reducing traffic in Manhattan. I encourage everyone to closely analyze the details of the Plan, and I would like to also thank Senators Lanza and Savino for their efforts on this matter."
“Senator Lanza has shown courage and ingenuity in crafting this bill in a way to speed its passage and deliver the revenue sorely needed for our transportation systems,” said Sam Schwartz, president of Sam Schwartz Engineering. “I believe people will look back at this moment as a turning point in our city.”
“The introduction of this bill creates an opportunity for our State’s leaders to have a serious discussion about how to fund the much needed investments in all transportation infrastructure including roads and bridges as well as mass transit, said Carol Kellermann, president of Citizens Budget Commission. “As the bill recognizes, motor vehicle user fees such as tolls should play a major role in any future transportation funding system.”
"The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce was an early and active supporter of the Move NY transportation plan,” said Linda Baran, president of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. “For too long, Staten Island's residents and businesses have endured some of the longest commute times in the nation while paying the highest tolls. The Move NY plan goes a long way towards leveling the playing field for all New Yorker's while providing a sustainable and secure funding source for our region's infrastructure. It is only fitting that the Senate bill is being sponsored by Staten Island's own Senator Andrew Lanza. We commend him and the many other legislators who recognize the importance of funding our State's transportation needs."
“The WFP believes that investments in our public schools, universities, libraries, parks and mass transit system are investments that bring New Yorkers together and improve working families’ lives,” said Bill Lipton, executive director of the Working Families Party (WFP). “The Move NY Fair Plan will not only move our mass transit system into the 21st century; it will help move working class and poor New Yorkers into the middle class. Its emphasis on addressing community-based transit needs will open the pathway to higher paying jobs and educational opportunities, righting decades of injustice by filling transit deserts in communities long forgotten.”
"Reaching our 80 x 50 climate goal will require a significant reduction in emissions from the transportation sector. The only way we get there is a creative funding scheme to allow for improved transit service and reliability, along with reduced commute times for those living in the furthest reaches of the city. Move NY holds the promise to make this into a reality and we applaud Senator Lanza for leading the way in the Senate," said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.
“The NY Metropolitan Trucking Association applauds Senator Lanza for sponsoring this critical piece of legislation in Senate,” said Patrick Hyland, president of the NY Metropolitan Trucking Association. “For far too long the small business owners of this region have been saddled with burdensome toll bills. The Move NY levels the playing field when it comes to toll collection while also generating revenue to upgrade mass transportation and reduce congestion. Long-term funding for transportation has been an ongoing issue in New York for decades and we thank Senator Lanza for proposing a tangible long-term solution.”
“The Building Congress has long urged the New York State Legislature to consider a uniform toll policy for the City’s bridge and tunnel crossings,” said NY Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson. “The cost of maintaining this critical infrastructure should be more evenly distributed, as the Move NY plan proposes. What’s more, a uniform toll policy has the potential to unlock urgently needed resources with which to underwrite the upkeep and expansion of our transportation systems, an objective all New Yorkers should support.”
"Taxi drivers and passengers often spend much of their days and nights stuck in traffic which hurts the overall economy and slows our great city down," said Ron Sherman, President of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade. "We applaud Senator Lanza for demonstrating leadership in this growing movement to fund mass transit, improve our decaying infrastructure, ease our congested streets and ensure fairness for our drivers."
"We commend Senator Lanza for giving key support for this commonsense plan to reduce congestion and help us get the public transit funding we need," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "Now state lawmakers must approve the Fair Plan and give New Yorkers a say about which transit projects are most urgently in need of funding in their communities -- through the unprecedented Transit Gap Investment Fund. With Move NY, we can also fund safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists across the city, including lanes on the Verrazano and Brooklyn Bridges."
“Our organization knows that MOVE NY will benefit both New Yorkers and New York businesses,” said Jay Simson, president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York, representing 290 firms and 24,000 employees. “Designed to relieve congestion in New York City, this is a forward-looking plan that will produce an immediate economic benefit to the City, while supporting its projected long-term growth.”
John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, "Public transit is more popular than ever before, but our investment in the system hasn't kept pace. Subways are dangerously crowded and notoriously unreliable, with no end in sight. Meanwhile, the State has promised $8.3 billion to help improve downstate transit, but with no funding source and no timetable attached. The Move NY plan will provide a new, reliable funding source to modernize our subways and buses without raising fares to levels that working people can't afford."
“Passage of the Move NY Fair Plan will, for the first time in history, dedicate funding to fill serious gaps in our transit system,” said Eddie Bautista, executive director of New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “These transit deserts are found in communities of color across the five boroughs and create obstacles to high paying jobs, education, health care, and healthy food choices. At 43 minutes, Bronx commuters have the second highest travel time in the nation — stealing precious hours each week that could be spent with friends and family and enjoying recreational activities. The environmental justice community commends Senator Lanza for introducing this historic legislation, and we urge its swift adoption early in the 2017 legislative session.”
“New York’s transportation mess needs untangling and Move NY represents the best thinking of the region’s stakeholders, elected officials and community groups to do that,” said Rich Schrader, NRDC’s political director in Albany. “The time has come to address New York’s pressing transportation problems. We are counting on Senator Lanza and the leadership in Albany to get the job done so that New Yorkers can keep moving and breathe easier doing it.”
Tom Wright, president of Regional Plan Association, said: “The Move NY plan will reduce congestion in New York City while spurring economic and environmental benefits throughout the region. We applaud Senators Lanza and Savino for supporting innovative ideas that will bring better mobility to underserved neighborhoods while improving the regional transportation network.”
“The Waterfront Alliance hails this legislation as an important step toward making the Move NY plan a reality,” said Roland Lewis, president & CEO of the Waterfront Alliance. “The need for adequate and sustained infrastructure funding could not be more pressing, and is crucial to the health of our region’s—and the nation’s—economy. As the foremost advocates for expanded ferry service to link people to jobs in transit-starved waterfront districts, we strongly support the plan’s provision for ferries, which can build on the de Blasio administration’s critical investments to bring Citywide Ferry Service to all New York’s boroughs.”
"The Move NY plan would reverse decades of sky-high tolls on outer area crossings like the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge while requiring hundreds of thousands of free riders to finally pay their fair share to use the city's oldest and most congested spans," said Gene Russianoff, director of Straphangers Campaign. "It's way past time for toll reform and a great opportunity to reinvest not only in our mass transit system but the city's dilapidated roads and bridges."
“WE ACT congratulates Senator Lanza for introducing the bill supporting the MOVE NY plan in the Senate, said Peggy Shepard, executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “If the bill passes, all New Yorkers will benefit from faster travel times and additional resources for our critical transportation network. We look forward to the next MOVE!”
“Our working communities rely on public transportation, yet large portions of the population remain cut off from the network,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE. “The Transit Gap Investment Fund will finally make right the transit wrongs of past decades by bringing new subway, bus, and commuter rail service to our underserved neighborhoods. What’s more, people in our communities will finally have a say in what they need and where they want to see the money invested. With up to $20 million going to each Community District, we can finally see new bus shelters and elevators in stations that have been all but abandoned. Coupled with transit discounts provided under the Move NY legislation, UPROSE finally sees light at the end of the tunnel, and we applaud Senator Lanza for his forward-thinking approach to a problem that’s simply unacceptable in the 21st century. We urge the bill’s passage.”
“The Move NY Fair Plan will render the City’s tolling system fair and equitable for all New Yorkers, provide critical mass transportation funding, and allocate the necessary funds to fix our roads and bridges,” said Allen Cappelli, Staten Island attorney and MTA board member. “It’s about time that all NYers are treated fairly and equitably and I am pleased that Staten Island’s elected officials, including Sens. Lanza and Savino, have taken a leadership role in advancing this necessary public policy!”
"Transit is the lifeblood of our communities and essential to cutting pollution," said Andy Darrell, EDF’s New York Regional Director. "We need to come together around fair ways to pay for clean, affordable transportation – and this plan offers a great start."