The Move NY toll reform plan, which would create a consistent toll cordon around the Manhattan central business district while dropping toll rates on outer-borough crossings, has received the endorsement of Council Member James Vacca of the Bronx.
“We have to improve mass transit to the central city and we have to discourage car use below 60th Street,” Vacca told Streetsblog. “The MTA express buses are in the same traffic as everybody else.”
“I am proud to support the Move NY plan and call on my colleagues in government to endorse the plan and help enact it into law,” Vacca said in a press release, adding that the plan addresses gridlock, tolls, and fares “that significantly affect outer borough residents.”
Vacca’s eastern Bronx district includes the Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges, which would see tolls cut by nearly half under the plan.
Vacca served as City Council transportation committee chair for one term, beginning in 2010. Prior to becoming transportation chair he had endorsed and voted for congestion pricing, but he later became equivocal about that support. “I did think that plan had to be modified,” he told Streetsblog today. “There were many issues with it.”
In 2010, Streetsblog’s Ben Fried asked Vacca if he saw congestion pricing or bridge tolls playing a role in putting the MTA on more solid financial footing in the future. “Possibly,” Vacca said, expressing concern that any funding solution not be raided to plug holes in the state’s general fund. “I’m concerned about fares going up. I don’t want to out-price the system. I want to encourage people to use it.”
“We were pleasantly surprised to see Vacca embrace the plan so quickly and completely and to indicate he wanted to endorse publicly,” Move NY campaign director Alex Matthiessen said in an email. The group hopes to build momentum with additional endorsements from elected officials. “As a first step,” Matthiessen said, “we hope he’ll actively seek to influence other Bronx pols.”
“I will be talking to other elected officials,” Vacca told Streetsblog. “I will be urging my other members to take this plan very seriously.”
Council Member Mark Weprin of Queens has been the council’s most outspoken supporter of toll reform.