Club Soda and Salt

No more stains

Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

They can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on April 18, 2010

Usually, articles about how New York is oppressing drivers by making them pay their fair share for space and infrastructure are the province of rags like the Post and the Daily News. Sadly, it seems like the Grey Lady has decided to horn in on the action:

For [Broad Channel’s] roughly 3,000 residents, daily trips to the peninsula over the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge are something of a necessity. The toll is $2.75 for drivers without an E-ZPass. But for the past 12 years, residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaways have been allowed to cross it without charge.

But their free ride is about to end.

Broad Channel is a middle-class neighbourhood on the fringes of New York City. As you can see below, it is located on a tiny island in Jamaica Bay, and is connected to the rest of the city by two bridges:

The bridge to the north goes to Howard Beach and the rest of New York, and is free. The bridge to the south goes to the Rockaways (another neighbourhood in the bay), and is the bridge at the center of the “controversy”. Since both bridges have been free, the rest of the city has been subsidizing the transportation costs for Broad Channel residents for 12 years. Some would say that the end of this subsidy is a reasonable step given the dire financial situation at the MTA. The New York Times, however, decides to focus on the fact that the locals – shockingly – are upset that the rest of the state will no longer pay to maintain a bridge that largely serves just them:

Under the new rules, residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaways who have an E-ZPass will no longer be credited the $1.13 toll they pay each time they cross the Cross Bay Bridge, although they will not be charged if they make more than two crossings a day.

To many people in Broad Channel, a largely working-class enclave, it means paying to get to the doctor’s office, go to work, pick up a child at school or attend a meeting of the local community board. It is not uncommon for families to have lived there for generations; many of the residents are civil servants.

How cruel! Of course, residents of Broad Channel have another way to get to the Rockaways:

Of course, the subway costs $2.25, but I guess it’s ok for transit riders to pay while drivers use the bridge for free. The times doesn’t think the subway is good enough, though:

The A train stops there, but the ride to the financial district often takes 90 minutes. Someone who uses the bridge to get to work will now have to pay nearly $600 a year.

The ride to the FD is indeed long, but the whole article is about these people needing to go in the *opposite direction*! Total non-sequitur. Moreover, driving to Manhattan will still be free for Broad Channel residents, since the bridge that connects them to the rest of Queens (and ultimately to downtown) is toll-free! So the 90 minute complaint is a total red herring.

So to summarize, rather that be forced to use the subway just like everyone else, middle class folks  people who have chosen to live in a relatively remote part of New York should have everyone else’s taxes pay for their free bridge(s). Do I have that right, NYT? Thanks for clearing that up.


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Listen to the horn go beep beep beep as we travel near and far

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on June 3, 2008

I’ve been here all of a month, but I’m as comfortable as ever. And I have observations!

The biggest change in my life — aside from increased burrito consumption — has been the acquisition of a car. You see, J and I were lucky enough to find an apartment that included a parking space. Since apartments are hotly contested here, we had to agree to rent the space along with the place. Once that sunk cost had been accepted, it was really a hop skip and jump (to the San Bruno Honda!) to tripling it with car payments, insurance, and the like.

Understand that this tore me up inside, and that I continue to feel liberal guilt about it everyday. As you’ll note from my links, I am an avid reader of Streetsblog, mouthpiece of the car-trodden cyclist, fighter of motorheads everywhere, and dogged promoter of congestion pricing. But hey, I don’t use it to commute, so that makes it a little better, right? And besides, it’s a hybrid! I hear they clean the air as you drive.

It’s weird, though. Here I am in San Francisco, surrounded by organic toothpaste and vegan chorizo and composting and more locally grown organic food than you can shake a cup of fair trade mocha at, and yet it would appear that driving is acceptable. Buy a hybrid in New York (a city that refuses to put out any recycling cans), and people look at you with a mixture of pity and disdain (and groan audibly). Buy a hybrid out here, and people cheer – no, really, they literally say “YAY!” and congratulate you — for becoming part of America’s addiction to the automobile. I don’t understand it.

Despite this, I feel guilty. Guess I’ll soothe myself with a donation to Transportation Alternatives. Ah, that hit the spot.

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