As Albany lawmakers debate ways to raise money for the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Congressman Anthony Weiner, a mayoral candidate, is offering his own plan.
In a letter sent yesterday to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, Weiner proposes a four-point plan that includes charging non-New York City residents a $4.15 toll on city-owned East River and Harlem River bridges.
Weiner says such a toll would raise nearly $391 million a year, though he does not explain how it would be collected.
The congressman says this plan would protect middle-class New Yorkers, who, he says, have shouldered an unfair burden in recent years.
Drivers crossing the Queensboro Bridge this morning had mixed reaction to Weiner's proposal.
"There shouldn't be tolls because we pay taxes to use the bridges already," said one driver. "People who don't live in New York City still work here, improve the economy."
"I really think that's better in New York," said another. "We really need to find a way to get some money in here. Every day I'm on this road sitting, sitting, and sitting. Maybe it will cut down on some of the congestion, too."
"I think everybody should be able to cross this bridge for free," said a non-city resident. "It shouldn't just be people who live in the city because when I come here I buy gas here, I pay taxes here when I go to the store, so what's the difference?"
Weiner also wants to cut the MTA's administrative spending by 10 percent a year over four years, give the mayor more votes on the MTA board, and make the agency's finances more transparent.
So far, the MTA has not commented on Weiner's proposal.
The MTA says it will move forward with plans to raise fares and cut service unless Albany acts by March 25th.