By Olivia Scheck
MANHATTAN — A proposal to implement a $2 toll on the city’s East River bridges, which previously appeared as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, may now be back on the table.
New York State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr., who staunchly opposed bridge tolls when Bloomberg proposed them in 2007, announced Sunday he will advocate for $2 tolls on the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro bridges, according to a recent press release.
Espada explained his reversal to the New York Times Monday morning, saying that it was a response to the “incredible financial burden” currently facing the Metropolitan Transit Authority. “The free student MetroCards are clearly threatened by the budget. We can’t just talk about the need to restore that service. We have to actually come up with the money,” Espada told the paper.
Espada also noted that his proposal would specifically earmark the resulting revenue for free student MetroCards and the restoration of bus and subway services that are currently slatted to be cut.
“The MTA must agree to the specific use of this revenue, or all bets are off,” Espada said, according to the release.
If instituted, the tolls would generate an estimated $525 million in additional funds for the MTA, the release claimed.