A plan to pay for mass transit through congestion pricing and tolls on East River bridges is being pushed as a solution for traffic-choked streets and improving subway and bus travel.
While the team behind Move NY, the brainchild of transit engineer Sam Schwartz, feels it has the only comprehensive, workable plan with public support, it still has to convince Albany, which killed that last congestion pricing scheme in 2008 when the Assembly refused to vote on it.
"We finally figured out how to make it work and how to be fair to the outerboroughs," Schwartz, a former transportation commissioner under Mayor Ed Koch, told reporters Tuesday.
The offices of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who effectively controls the MTA, key legislators and the de Blasio administration have been briefed on the plan, according to Move NY.
The campaign's director, Alex Matthiessen, said that new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was an early supporter of the Move NY plan during his days as a rank-and-file lawmaker from the Bronx.
"I do think lawmakers understand that maybe the time has come to adopt a plan that really is inevitable for New York City," Matthiessen said.
But reps for Albany's powers-that-be that must authorize the plan legislatively seemed were cool to embracing congestion pricing as they face an underfunded $32 billion plan from the MTA to fix transit and concerns about how to pay for road and bridge repairs.
"In the past, the speaker has not supported tolls on East River bridges," countered Heastie spokesman Mike Whyland.
For the Republicans who control the Senate, spokesman Scott Reif said there is no support for new tolls, fees or taxes.
"Hardworking New Yorkers are paying enough already," he said.
A de Blasio spokesman said it'll be reviewed and a spokeswomen for Cuomo did not return requests for comment.
Under the Move NY plan, $1.5 billion will be netted mostly from charging drivers with E-ZPass $5.54 to cross 60th Street or travel into Manhattan from the four East River bridges- -- Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queensboro. Drivers who pay a toll to enter the borough will have that deducted from the cost of entering Manhattan's central business district and the price would be fixed to avoid jacked-up tolls in the future.
"The only place that you should apply pricing is where you have two ingredients: you have congestion and you have really good transit alternatives," Schwartz said. "The only place where you have both those ingredients is Manhattan, south of 60th street."
In exchange, tolls for other bridge crossings that connect residential neighborhoods -- Verrazano Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn, or the Whitestone Bridge connecting Queens and the Bronx -- would get cut 39% to 48%. The Harlem River bridges, would remain free.
"This plan leads with, what can we do for the outerboroughs to make it better for them," said Councilman Mark Weprin of eastern Queens, a former state lawmaker and opponent of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Manhattan-centric congestion pricing plan.
The money would be collected from E-ZPass and license plate readers to keep traffic moving. MoveNY envisions a new "clearinghouse" within the MTA to collect and disperse the money, with 75% to mass transit and 25% for roads and bridges.