Variable Pricing on the New NY Bridge: No More Breaks for Big Trucks

As the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project sails along, a recent letter in The Journal News called for free crossings for motorists between the off-peak hours from 1 to 5 a.m., to encourage drivers, especially commercial drivers, to travel when there is presumably less congestion.

While the goal to shift vehicles to off-peak hours as a way to reduce congestion has been proven successful in the area, around the country and internationally, with research even showing that non-work travel constitutes up to 56 percent of trips during the a.m. peak travel period and 69 percent of trips during the p.m. peak, the author’s proposed traffic solution misses the mark. The problem here is twofold: First, according the NYSTA’s own consultants, trucks already are not paying their fair share. According to one report, road damage caused by a single 18-wheeler is equivalent to that of 9,600 cars, yet trucks pay “only five times the rate of the average passenger vehicle,” according to NYSTA Executive Director Tom Madison. By some calculations, trucks cause up to 99 percent of all road damage.

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NYS Thruway Authority Board Must Address TZB Task Force Recommendations

The NYS Thruway Authority was a key member of the Mass Transit Task Force, but the NYSTA Board is still yet to formally address the group’s recommendations.

On Thursday, the New York State Thruway Authority Board of Directors held its first meeting since the New NY Bridge Mass Transit Task Force issued its final [...]

TZB Transit Task Force Recommends New Modern, Faster Bus System in I-287 Corridor

The New NY Bridge Mass Transit Task Force (of which Tri-State is a member) issued its Final Transit Recommendations today. The 119-page report details transit improvements along the Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 corridor in Rockland and Westchester Counties. The recommendations propose sleeker, new buses with WiFi technology; bus stops transformed from a patch of grass or pavement to a station with pre-board fare collection, seating, shelter, and real-time bus information; and new technology improvements that will give buses lead time at intersections and improve travel flow on I-287. With the implementation of these recommendations by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Thruway Authority, transit between these two counties can be transformed from an experience that is tolerated, to an experience that is preferred. And, the Hudson Valley will have secured a big win.

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Budget Provision Could Make All-Electronic Tolling a Reality throughout New York

Cashless, all-electronic toll plaza at the Henry Hudson Bridge (top) and an open-road AET gantry on the Garden State Parkway. | Photos: and NJ Monthly

Cashless, all-electronic toll plaza at the Henry Hudson Bridge (top) and an open-road AET gantry on the Garden State Parkway. | Photos: and NJ Monthly

Toll plazas throughout New York could soon be all-electronic, if a proposal in Governor Cuomo’s draft Executive Budget is approved. Tri-State has been advocating for all-electronic tolling (AET) since 1999, but to date, the only fully-cashless toll facility in New York is the MTA’s Henry Hudson Bridge. This conversion has been widely applauded and has approval ratings of 95 percent from users. Cashless tolling reduces congestion, improves safety by reducing the “weaving and lane-jockeying“ associated with toll plazas, and has air quality benefits too.

The New York State Thruway Authority has also been making plans to convert to cashless AET for some time, but implementation has been slow going. The slow roll-out on NYSTA facilities, and delayed expansion to other bridges in the MTA system, has been tied to a concern over the lack of enforcement capability against those who fail to pay the toll:

This bill would strengthen the ability of New York’s four authorities that operate toll facilities—the Thruway Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Bridge Authority, and the Port Authority—to effectively manage and enforce the collection of tolls throughout the State. Toll violators cost the tolling authorities tens of millions of dollars each year, and the current law is outdated and ineffective in enforcing against persistent violators. Some persistent violators owe in excess of $100,000 in tolls and fees.

This provision changes that: not only would the proposal double the fine for failure to pay a toll (to $100, currently $50), a vehicle owner who doesn’t pay will receive ”a nasty surprise when they try to register their cars at the Department of Motor Vehicles.”

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Elected Officials Should Be Improving Transit Service, Not Subsidizing Tolls

Last week, New York State Senator David Carlucci proposed a $250 state tax credit for toll-paying commuters in New York state.

 The state has the nation’s highest tolls and the costs can be “crushing,” Carlucci said. His plan would be the first of its kind in the state.

“If you look at someone’s overall costs of living in the Hudson Valley, for middle-class families a large portion of their income has to go to just getting to work,” Carlucci, D-New City, told The Journal News on Thursday. “We’ve got to work at lowering all of these costs.”

The Senator’s statement, however, does not seem to comport with the facts. According to a recent Thruway Authority report, tolls in the Hudson Valley and in upstate New York are actually quite low compared to what drivers pay on toll roads in other states:

More specifically with respect to Tappan Zee Bridge tolls, a commuter with EZPass pays $3 per day or $720 per year to commute to work. This is significantly lower than the tolls at the Port Authority Hudson River crossings and much lower than what transit commuters must pay, including those in Carlucci’s district:

Commuter Mode

Daily Cost

Yearly Cost

TZB EZPass Car



TAPPAN ZEExpress Bus (TZx)



Metro North (Spring Valley, Nanuet, Pearl River to Midtown)



Coach Bus (Palisades Mall pick-up to Midtown)



Metro North (Suffern, Sloatsburg to Midtown)



(Source: Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
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New York 2013: Looking Back on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

NY-GBU-2013In New York’s transportation world, 2013 feels like a tale of two administrations: one, at the New York City level, that was pro sustainable transportation and one, at the state level, that… well, the jury is still out.

The Bloomberg/Sadik-Khan NYCDOT era brought plenty of wins for those who walk, bike and take transit in New York City. For those residing in the rest of The Empire State, stay tuned — the battle continues.

We end 2013 with two notable losses: not only has Mayor Bloomberg passed the torch, but Senator Charles Fuschillo, the State Senate’s Transportation Committee chair and sponsor of the 2011 Complete Streets law, will also be stepping down, leaving a big question mark as to who will advocate for downstate’s transit  systems and pedestrian and cycling safety interests.

The Good

Livable streets advocates impact elections – StreetsPAC, the New York City livable streets political action committee, launched in April and its push for a Vision Zero policy quickly became a plank in then-candidate Bill de Blasio’s platform. The PAC has already elevated progressive transportation policy into New York City’s political circles and Tri-State is excited to see what’s to come this year during the state election process.

Speed enforcement cameras debut in NYC – After more than 10 years of failed attempts, New York City finally squeezed out of Albany a key victory for safer streets. The City’s first speed camera demonstration program launched in the fall thanks to the efforts of Assemblywoman Glick and State Senator Klein.

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Symposium Touts BRT’s Potential in the I-287 Corridor


Elected officials, nonprofit and business leaders, transit officials and members of the general public gathered for a discussion on bus rapid transit (BRT) and transit oriented development (TOD) in Rockland County this past Friday. | Photo: Steven Higashide/TSTC

As the Tappan Zee Bridge Mass Transit Task Force moves towards its final report on mass transit recommendations for the I-287 Corridor, state and local elected officials, nonprofit and business leaders, as well as transit officials and members of the general public gathered for a discussion in Rockland County on the potential benefits and financing opportunities related to bus rapid transit (BRT) and transit oriented development (TOD) this past Friday. The event, organized by Tri-State and co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Westchester and Groundwork Hudson Valley, included speakers from five different states, each of whom had particular and extensive experience with planning or financing transit projects or related development. By the end of the program, it was clear that BRT is not only possible in the I-287 Corridor, but when combined with smart TOD planning, could be utilized as a tool to revolutionize mobility in the Hudson Valley and revitalize local communities.

The event opened with a welcome from Chairwoman of the Rockland County Legislature Harriet Cornell, a strong supporter of improved transportation options for Rockland commuters. Joseph Calabrese, CEO, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, followed with a presentation that detailed the implementation of the HealthLine BRT system and the critical role this new transit option had in revitalizing Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue. Calabrese noted that although BRT was not the region’s first choice, it has been a greater success than people expected (and at a fraction of the cost of a rail alternative) because it was well planned and implemented. ”If we had done rail, it would have cost more than $1 billion, and it never would have gotten done,” said Calabrese. “So we did the best we could with what we had, and it’s been wildly successful.”

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Even More Concerns About New TZB Financing

Less than two weeks after reports that the interest rate on TIFIA loans was up almost one percentage point over a six month period, the Associated Press reported over the weekend that, according to state documents and interviews, Governor Cuomo’s “plan to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge has quietly hit financial uncertainties that [...]

In a Time of Increased Borrowing Costs, an Increased Urgency for TZB BRT Planning and Implementation

With interest rates on the rise, does waiting on key transit capital improvements make fiscal sense? | Photo: Nyack News & Views

It’s been over a year since the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued its Record of Decision approving the new Tappan Zee Bridge environmental review process. It’s also been over a year [...]

TSTC Statement on Federal Tappan Zee Bridge Loan Moving Forward

Tri-State: Lower Than Expected Loan for TZB Could Lead to Steeper Tolls

For immediate release: March 8, 2013 Contact: Veronica Vanterpool, 212-268-7474 or 917-957-9748

Statement of Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool on the report of New York State’s federal loan application moving forward:

New York State’s taxpayers will be paying more money [...]