A resident of Bayside, John Kelly says he spends about 4 hours a day commuting to and from work.
“So, I normally take the Q27 all the way to the 7-line and then the 4, 5, 6 going downtown,“ said Kelly.
That’s why he and his group, Eastern Queens Greenway, are supporting congestion pricing. A plan being pushed by Governor Cuomo, that would charge a fee for drivers who enter parts of Manhattan. Although few details are known, the money would go towards funding the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
“Now is the time when we need to think big picture where we need political support, political leadership and a lot of civic engagement to make sure that we have some real major changes not just small things around the edges,“ said Kelly.
Kelly believes the plan, in concert with Mayor deBlasio’s proposed millionaire’s tax, would not only help keep the system running but would allow for improvements. Especially in areas like Bayside, considered a transit desert.
Resident Emilio Martinez likes the idea.
“The fastest way I can get is Long Island Railroad and that’s real expensive and subways, main street station is not good like the rest of the stations. So yes I think we need something better,“ said Martinez.
Supporters say this plan would have a huge impact in Queens where a majority of people choose public transportation as opposed to driving a car.
However, several local officials have spoken out against congestion pricing. They are concerned that it could impose tolls on East River bridges. A similar plan was shot down by Assembly democrats in 2008.
“These bridges have been free since 1911, I’m talking about the Queensboro Bridge behind us, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, and Williamsburg Bridge now is not the time to toll them,“ said Assemblyman David Weprin.
Resident John Torres, who drives into Manhattan, can’t fathom another toll if in fact that’s part of this plan.
“They are doing everything they can to squeeze everything out and it’s getting harder and harder to live here,“ said Torres.
Stark opinions to a complex problem.