Tag Archives: tolls

Queens cabbie charged for stealing more than $28K in tolls


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Brian Mendonca

A Long Island City taxi driver has been busted for evading more than $28,000 in tolls by “piggybacking” on cars through Robert F. Kennedy Bridge E-Z Pass lanes.

The cabbie, 69-year-old Rodolfo Sanchez, is accused of crossing the bridge without paying the toll more than 3,000 times over a two-year period, between 2012 and 2010, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Sanchez was able to avoid the tolls by tailgating the vehicle in front of his yellow cab and letting both cars go through the bridge’s E-Z Pass lanes before the barrier came down, the district attorney said.

He was eventually caught, according to Brown, when it was discovered that an E-Z Pass tag that was previously reported lost, was regularly crossing the bridge’s toll plazas without making a payment. The pass had become invalid in 2011 but it was still emitting a signal to the E-Z Pass readers on the bridge, he said.

Sanchez allegedly told investigators that he knew that the E-Z Pass was no good but he used it because he needed money for his family.

Sanchez was arraigned Thursday and charged with grand larceny, theft of services and criminal possession of stolen property, prosecutors said. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Rain and snow showers this morning. Then becoming partly cloudy this afternoon. High near 55. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Monday night: Clear skies. Low 34. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Kaleidoscope

“The Kaleidoscope” starts at 8:00 p.m. at The Creek and the Cave at 10-93 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City. The Kaleidoscope is an experiment where friends and strangers get together and perform. Four improvisers create teams with whom they have never performed and will never exist again. Like a kaleidoscope:, every time you look you will see something different. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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Op-ed: Prohibit the installation of tolls


| oped@queenscourier.com


 STATE SENATOR TONY AVELLA

Once again, congestion pricing plans, which include the imposition of tolls on the East River bridges, have been circulating throughout the city.  Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg first began to push his own congestion pricing plan in 2008, I have been vehemently against congestion pricing in any form whether it is through charging drivers a fee to enter Manhattan or through the implementation of tolls on the East River bridges.  Congestion pricing in any form is nothing more than an undue tax on working and middle class families and small businesses. That is why I recently held a press conference with Assemblymember David Weprin, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Civic Congress, announcing legislation I will be introducing in the State Senate that would prohibit the installation of tolls on any bridges controlled and operated by the City of New York, which include the East River bridges.

The imposition of tolls on the East River bridges, including the Willis Avenue, Third Avenue, Queensborough, Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, is not a revenue-generating option that the residents of this city should be forced to endure.  Such tolls would place an unfair burden upon Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan residents who would be forced to pay to travel between the boroughs.  Given the always increasing cost of living in the city and with constant bus and subways fare hikes, city residents are in no position to again face another huge increase in their daily living expenses.

Penalizing businesses, especially small businesses, and individuals for using their cars is not a viable option or solution for reducing traffic.  New Yorkers still need to get to work and conduct business and raising taxes should never be the first option.  It would have a devastating effect on those families near or at the poverty level.  Everyone agrees that we need to address traffic congestion problems throughout the city, but the first step has to be improving mass transit.

A popular plan being circulated by an organization called Move NY, led by former Transportation Commissioner Sam Schwartz, would charge all drivers that enter Manhattan by crossing either the East River or 60th Street a toll, while drivers on bridges linking the other boroughs, would see their tolls go down.  According to Move NY, this would lead to more funds dedicated to transportation in the region, with the majority of it going to improved transit service.

In a perfect world, this plan could work.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world; we live in the real world, where the next fiscal crisis could be just around the corner.  What happens to this plan then?  What happens when the legislature raids the funds dedicated to transportation, which has happened time and again? How can this plan guarantee that the tolls for the outer borough bridges don’t go up again, when more funds are needed?  As the saying goes, there are only two guarantees in life-death and taxes.

In the end, congestion pricing and any plan to impose tolls on the East River bridges is merely another revenue generating plan, not a traffic-reducing plan.  It should be the responsibility of the leaders of the city to find ways of decreasing traffic congestion without placing a new fiscal burden upon those who can least afford it.

Avella represents the 11th Senate District

 

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Tolls reinstated on Rockaway bridges


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Cross Bay Bridgew

Tolls on the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, suspended since Sandy, went back into the effect on Saturday, December 1. Crossing once again costs $3.25 in the cash lane and $1.80 for E-ZPass users.

Since the bridge reopened a few days after the storm, fares going across the Cross Bay, along with the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge going into Brooklyn, were waived to allow people on and off the peninsula for relief efforts. But as the Rockaways slowly bounce back to normalcy, the decision was made to reinstate the fare.

Governor Andrew Cuomo extended the halt on tolls on Cross Bay through all of November, according to MTA spokesperson Judie Glave. Despite outsiders coming into the Rockaways to help with recovery efforts, the transit authority is required to collect tolls from everyone going in.

“MTA Bridges and Tunnels has a bond covenant, which requires us to collect tolls from everyone who goes through,” said Glave.

Rockaway residents, however, do get a break thanks to a program that tracks E-ZPass tags for residents within the region’s six zip codes. The Rockaway Rebate program went into effect earlier this year, pushed for by Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. The program redeems tolls for these residents who are travelling in and out of mainland Queens, Glave said.

Goldfeder, who has sought several means to ease the intra-borough toll burden since coming into office last September, said he would communicate with MTA chair Joseph Lhota and Cuomo to see what steps can be taken going forward for inexpensive transportation across Jamaica Bay.

“I was responsible in working with the governor in working to eradicate the toll for the last month,” he said. “I will absolutely talk to Joe Lhota at the MTA and the governor to discuss possible options for further discounts and rebates.”

Drivers to pay more at Port Authority crossings beginning Sunday


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Toll hikes go into effect on Port Authority crossings beginning Sunday, a December tradition drivers will have to get used to.

E-ZPass users will be paying an additional 75 cents — $8.25 off peak and $10.25 on peak — while cash tolls will rise $1 to $13.

All increases will apply to the Lincoln & Holland tunnels, the George Washington, Bayonne and Goethals bridges, and the Outerbridge Crossing.

More toll increases are scheduled each December through 2015. The hikes were approved in August.  Increased revenue from the increases will go towards the cost of the World Trade Center rebuilding and the overhaul of the agencies facilities, according to the PA.

MTA to hike fares in ’13, ’15 & ’17


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

City straphangers are getting a brief reprieve from a 2013 fare hike, but will soon be paying more at both the turnstile and MetroCard machine.

The MTA approved a preliminary budget including a bump in 2013 fares, followed by further increases in 2015 and 2017. A $1 “green fee” will also be added to newly purchased MetroCards. Tolls and commuter line fares will rise as well.

Fares were originally intended to be boosted beginning in January, but will be held off until March.

The biennial increases will net the agency $450 million next year and an additional $500 million in 2015.

Details on the hikes have not been released and will be made available later this year ahead of November’s public hearings.

“They should not increase the prices,” said Nesto Murdolk, 40, of Bayside. “There’s no way people can afford it.”

New Yorkers are frustrated at being “fed a steady diet of fare increases without corresponding improvements in service,” said Ya-Ting Liu, the transportation advocate for Transportation Alternatives at a June 25 MTA hearing.

Fares have been raised three times since 2007.

Other residents see the need for an increase to cover the MTA’s deep debts.

“I think it is necessary because of the running deficit,” said Bayside resident Fred Z., 71. “We’re going to have to increase taxes or get money from the fares.”

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said there is a fine line between the agency’s financial woes and providing a service, though he says that the MTA is not to blame.

“We think that the state doesn’t fund transit well enough,” he said. “There should be more support, rather than getting it all from the riding public.”

The MetroCard surcharge will produce about $20 million for the MTA — $18 million from the fee and $2 million in savings through printing fewer cards.

It is not known when a proposed $1 surcharge for new MetroCards will go into effect, though it will likely be enacted along with the March fare hike.

“My feeling is that people should be reusing their cards and part of it is a monetary benefit to the riding public,” Russianoff said.

Many cards are tossed aside with money amounting to less than one fare remaining. The MTA projects that $56.2 million will remain on MetroCards at the close of 2012. The number includes money on cards thrown away, lost or yet to be used.

— Additional reporting by Greg Giaconelli