New East River Bridges Toll Proposal Goes After Everyone, Including Bicyclists

50 Cents For Bikes, More Surcharges On Cabs Part Of 'Gridlock Sam' Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The city’s former traffic commissioner has a new plan to put tolls on East River bridges. But this proposal has some novel “selling points,” including a first-ever toll for cyclists.

Plan to toll the bridges have come and gone over the past few years, but the latest one by Sam Schwartz is starting to pick up steam, maybe because it goes after everyone.

“I’m trying to be equal opportunity pain throughout the region,” Schwartz said.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Story

Schwartz, known as “Gridlock Sam” to many, wasn’t kidding Friday when he told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer that his new plan to raise $1.2 billion a year tolling the East River bridges will hit a lot of people. He wants to make everyone pay, even some who think they should be exempt.

“I’m asking the bike riders to pay 50 cents each way to use the bridges coming into our Central Business District,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz also wants to put a new surcharge on yellow and livery cabs, a surcharge on so-called “black cars” and a surcharge on parking in Midtown. New tolls would be put on the Ed Koch Queensboro, the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

Driver would pay $5 with E-ZPass; $7 without.

But in exchange for keeping cars out of the Central Business District below 60th Street, Schwartz wants to reduce – that’s right, reduce — tolls on uptown spans, the Triboro, Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges.

The round-trip tab would drop from $13 to $8.

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Asia, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said that while the mayor isn’t supporting a congestion pricing plan at this time, it is necessary to find some way to fund mass transit.

“It is definitely vital that we figure out how we’re going to fund transit for the long term. It’s the only way New York City is going to stay competitive,” Holloway said.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb: Deputy Mayor Says The Plan Will Get Due Consideration

Drivers are definitely not on board.

“It may help with traffic, but I mean I think we pay for enough as far as tolls coming into the city and gas prices the way it is. I don’t think we need more tolls,” Brooklyn resident Lance Smith said.

“I think it would just slow traffic more. I’m not really for it,” added Rhonda Rosenfeld of New Hyde Park.

“That would be a disaster,” another person said.

Just for the record, before 1911 there were tolls on the Ed Koch bridge — 10 cents for cars, 5 cents for push carts and 3 cents for horses.

Please share your thoughts below…

  • Jennifer Benepe

    Unfortunately, this is not Sam Schwartz’s idea. I am the publisher of Benepe’s Bike Blog and NY Cycle News (which transitioned to BBB in 2006) , and in 2006 we wrote a letter to then soon to be Governor Elliot Spitzer about the sad state of affairs on the George aAshington Bridge where cyclists were being shuttled to a side of the bridge that was unusable, among other things. At that time I suggested that the NYNJ Port Aithority charge cyclists 50 cents to cross with the proviso however that they make the same improvements that car drivers would expect. You can see my entire letter printed here
    It is sad to see when an idea that I trumpeted publicly is used in a way that suggests cyclists are happy with the poor entry and exit ways from the city bridges. Many of them are dangerous, unusable, or non-existent. Often the routes are closed, and in some cases, as with the GWB, the pathway is closed from 12 midnight to 6 am.
    If this system of tolls is to work, the necessary improvements, similar to those accorded to motorists, must be made. Once that is done, I for one, am happy to pay the 50 cents. In the meantime, please give credit where credit is due–to us for coming up with the idea.
    Jennifer Benepe
    Publisher, Writer
    Benepe’s Bike Blog

  • Ken Puck

    How about a pedestrian license? The possibilities are endless.

  • raffaro

    I feel for you new yawkers aint all that tax a bitch? Butt Big Apple Brother ‘s got to eat too! too bad it’s yewalls greenbacks, butt look at the bright side yewall can sell yow bikes and walk think of the inviroment and all the good yow doing for big mama earth.

  • newjerseybt

    Yes, bicycles do kill and injure pedestrians. But I know a pedestrian who was injured in a collision with another pedestrian who was walking in a hurry. They met around a corner of a building resulting in teeth marks on forehead with large dental bills. Should we now need to have laws against fast walking on the wrong side of a sidewalk for the greater good? At some point in life, we have to accept that sheet happens especially in a crowded city. Life has never been fair. And as we try to create Utopia’s, we just end up living in fear and punishing ourselves in the process. And as we attempt to become even more godlike in pursuing perfection, we pay a heavy price for our arrogance as we lose our freedom a bit at a time.

  • Jeff G.

    You jackasses have some of the highest taxes in the U.S. and you’re “cash strapped” ??? The problem w/ socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money. Dumbasses!! You get what you deserve!!

  • travis

    WHAT!!! As tax payers we paid for the bridge , workers,and maintence gave everyone insurance and now I’m charged to use them …….next start a clean air tax so you can charge me for breathing…. the object appears to be tax JOHN Q for anything possible ….how about a BLINKING TAX!!!, a WALKING TAX …..

    • Darren

      Shh….don’t give them any ideas……lol

  • charles

    What is keeping NYC alive anymore?
    We used to have industry, from heavy to light, from navy yards to the garment district but that has been shut down by union gangsters and a tax on those who produce.

    All we have now is the wall street crowd shuffling the money of the world. At one time Wall street was great because NY and the USA produced great amounts of capital to lend around the world. Now we just borrow.

    The world and the USA is turniong it’s back on NYC and all we can do is tax ourselves to keep the lights on and the streets paved.

  • John

    Here’s a good idea for the morons in city government; CUT SPENDING and ELIMINATE public transportation if it can’t pay for itself.

  • Dave

    NYC, LA, Detroit, Chicago.. EVERY place that the Dims have controlled the governments for years are going broke, are broke or are going more broke…

    so what to do… ???

    hmm.. slow down or cut spending….never!!! say the Dims who have an incestuous relationship with the “we always want more” civil servant Unions… never….

    raise taxes, rasise taxes and then when that only works for a while, raise them again…

    All you Dim voters… you deserve what you get.

  • Piquerish

    I’m positive that a Dumbass Libtard Tax would fix the wormy Apple up just right. The DLT would claim a huge, largely insensate, base and with a little luck it could catch its own tale and become a world phenomenon, a Tax Ouroboros, eating itself out of existence. Well, we can HOPE, can’t we?

  • Clark

    Liberals stupidity is astounding. The more you raise taxes, the less you collect. Did you watch all the wealthy people and companies flee as taxes went up years earlier?

  • william torres

    has anyone notice that the cities that have money problems are the liberal cities. thats because they give too much money away to people that do not want to worki. and they tax payers are ones to suffer.

  • enbeuu

    Give the bicyclists a bonus for riding the bikes.

  • hansy

    Bike riders and pedestrians should pay the same as cars. There’s no escape

  • williampenn

    If those selfish expensive-bike-riding people were made to pay their fair share, Obama could let folks on Welfare drive across for free.

  • Count Yob

    Is there any way the city can put a tax on air? All that air is being consumed freely every day and the city isn’t getting a penny for it.

  • kala

    Bloomberg has become the sheriff of Notting ham, robbing from the poor and giving to the rich.

  • TJP

    Not a big fan of toll bridges in general. But if for the sake of argument you’re going to have tolls, then it makes sense to charge bike riders too – at least at a reduced rate. They’re using the bridge too.

  • Jesusland

    Democrats love being taxed. I hope Bloomberg taxes the living shyte out of those socialists.

  • The MaD HaCkER

    Tolls; Intersting. What do they need the money for?

  • JMWinPR

    Finally, I agree with a toll. Drivers and MTA riders have been taken over the coals to provide bike ways and pedestrian paths. Drivers can only proceed on green. Many times I’ve waited in line and was about to go through an intersection, only to have a pedestrian or rider enter the intersection against the light.

  • Sal Levy

    Thaaat’s right. We don’t want to increase the taxes on the multimillionaires and billionaires, but let’s tax the poorest of us who can’t even afford a car to get to work. Really fair…equal pain? Bull. The pain is proportional to the percentage of your income. This will hit the poorest people the most..but ain’t that the new American way. No new taxes, just raise every fee and fare for the working folk. I love how the lies just keep piling up.

    • williampenn

      Yeah, yeah, make the rich (anybody over $250K, like Mr. Obama says) pay $50. every time they cross. And make them buy coffee for everybody on the bridge, too, yeah! And if they don’t, we’ll occupy something and trash the city, yeah!

  • David Maxwell

    Love it, and while you’re at it impose a “like I’m all” tax on airheads. Every time they say “I’m all like” or “like I’m all” tax them 50 cents. Think of the CO2 savings.

  • Laker

    I think all these tolls should be double or triple the amounts being discussed, you have to do this if you want to maintain New York’s quality of life.

  • Sooner

    Now this bicycle tax would be grand in China or India.Let’s see if the New Yonkers will go for it.

  • dwoof


    Let me tell you how it will be
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me
    Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

    Should five per cent appear too small
    Be thankful I don’t take it all
    Cos I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

    If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
    If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
    If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat
    If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

  • rosietheterrorist

    If yinz don’t like all the taxes and tolls in New Yark, why do you keep electing Liberals? You’ll have to have a license plate on the bike because someone will just go through without paying.
    For the cost of a single parking space in New Yark you can buy a nice brick house in a different city, but please don’t come to Pittsburgh. We like being a big small town.

  • skep41

    Why doesnt the eternally cash-strapped boondoggle known as Nueva Jork just create gangs of burly thugs who can approach anyone on the streets and divest them of any money or valuables they happen to be carrying? A tax on fillings in your teeth, perhaps? These free-spending libs and the voracious crowd of parasites they support have reached the meltdown point. There is no more money they can screw out of a population that already pays higher taxes than serfs in the middle ages. The party is about to end. Either severe budget cuts or bankruptcy are near.

  • pete

    The Liberals in NY & CALIFORNIA can file
    for foreign aid status and leave the USA
    we’d be a great country again without these
    two Welfare States!

  • jules

    You vilified all those smokers who paid $4.35 a pack and made them quit. And now your govt wants you to make it up in the budget. I laugh every time I think about it.

  • Hugh Beaumont

    Why get upset? This is the job of a civil servant. They have nothing to do but sit around and dream up ways of taking your money. They are the arsonists and the fire department. They make laws in the hopes you’ll break them so they can fleece you. They also vote. Be aware that there is a true “class struggle” – it’s between those who work for a living, and the government vampires who live off your work, providing *nothing* in return but harm.

  • Lee

    Zero emissions, reduces traffic, increases available parking, causes no stress or damage to road and bridge surfaces. So why not charge cyclists a fee, its not like they are having a positive impact or anything.

  • seenbetterdaze

    Taxing the bike riders for cash? That oughtta do it! Should get the Libtards running NYC out of DEBT REAL QUICK! In about a thousand years.

  • Winston III

    Is America so stupid to realize if we just stop spending it does have to go to this point? Totally amazing!

  • Sooner

    What a sad and pathetic city.Look out Detroit here we come.

  • John Malverne

    Bloomberg’s toll plan is working. When he increased the toll at the Holland tunnel to $15 (!), I stopped taking my family into NYC for shopping, parades, etc. We no longer spend money in NY.

    Well done, Mike!

  • JGoldwater

    LMA0 You people in NYC get exactly the type of gov’t you deserve. Just stop sending your pols out here to AZ. We don’t need any more power hungry, tax happy carpetbaggers.

  • Redneck Jeff

    As just a dumb hick from the deep south, I have only one question. Why not move? If you all leave for cheaper areas of the country, and by cheaper I actually mean FREE, you won’t have to worry about the idiocy happening up there.

  • jim

    What about cutting spending????????

    This has to stop folks – it is not sustainable. Wages are not going up anymore people cannot afford price increases in government

  • tuna

    job creation for liberal freinds!

  • gc

    God, I’m glad I don’t live there. Please don’t move here.

  • tnmccoy

    Remember ‘Popeye’ movie and the tax collector of Sweet Haven? There was a tax on everything including tying up a rowboat, walking on the pier, asking questions, etc. Is this the future of New York City? Never mind the reason it’s going bankrupt are the public pensions! That’s where Bloomberg should be looking.

    • Mate

      Popeye was gay just like your comment fool

      • tnmccoy

        ‘Popeye was gay?’ What a buffoon you are. Just another attempt to denigrate a good American cartoon. My comment stands as a humorous and accurate one. You comment is dumb, self-serving, and reactionary. Apparently, it makes you feel good to call innocent cartoon characters gay. Elzie Segar can’t defend himself, can he? Enjoy your chosen life, mate!

      • Jesusland

        Didn’t you get the memo? Using “gay” as an insult is homophibic hate speech. It won’t be long before the Gay Mafia has you in its sights, Mate.

  • tadchem

    Every new tax, fee, or tariff charged by government is a confession that the government is addicted to spending money they don’t have, and that they will continue to view the people as a cash stream until they have bled us dry – the “Death of a Thousand Cuts.”

  • RiverdaleBob

    Thats it. Ive had enough. Time to move out of Der Furher Bloombergs Berlin. You want to tell me where I can smoke, what I can eat, where and how I can talk on my phone, and I have to pay for those who dont want to work?. Well I have something to tell you Bloomberg. Im moving my business , family and tax dollars out of New York! I CANT LOSE!!! .

    • jim

      Curious – where are you going?

      I’m pretty happy in FLA but close to retiring.
      If I was younger I would consider N.Dakota or Texas for business growth.
      Where are you thinking of?

    • tnmccoy

      Good for you. Now if you can only convince a million or so to go with you, billionaire Bloomberg will have to turn his wealth over to NYC to help the budget. The man is a blundering spender. Nothing will help NYC if it doesn’t abrogate some of those public pensions and benefits contracts with the unions.

  • Mike C.

    SOMEONE has to pay all those $75,000 + pensions aka winning lottery tickets for every public servant!

    The city is thronged with tourists and business and is cash strapped? Man, if they ever break TBTF NYC is going Detroit in under two years.

  • Scott

    As if I needed another reason to not own a car !

  • TaxemAll!

    Good, tax the goody-two-shoes on bicycles! They are the people who demand that smoking be banned, therefore, they can pick up the tax shortfall from the decline in cigarette sales!

  • Bob

    Here’s a weird concept. If you want to fund mass transit, how about raising the fares on mass transit and leave the drivers alone. The ‘poor’ people who can’t afford to pay a fare increase can afford cell phones, ipods, hundred-dollar sneakers, air conditioning, etc. The average driver is coping with close to five dollar a gallon gas, outrageous tolls, car insurance, etc. It’s time to get off the back of drivers and let the ‘poor’ folks pick up some of the burden. Oh yeah, I forgot. You bums in City Hall will do anything for votes.

  • Kelvin

    How about just moving your business out of NYC instead?

  • Michael Johnsom

    Try getting rid of gay alternate side parking in residential areas first. I think that causes people to unnecessarily need to get in their cars which possibly forces them to drive into Manhattan when they can’t find a parking spot. Then if congestion doesn’t ease-implement the tolls.

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