A few hours later, The Port Authority voted to raise fees for crossing area bridges and tunnels over 50 percent over the next five years.
“I can tell you what the effect would be if they didn’t raise the tolls,” Mayor Bloomberg told host John Gambling. “The bridges would eventually fall down. We wouldn’t fix anything. We wouldn’t be able to make the commute better aand let business go on back and forth under the river or over the river. So if you want services, you’ve got to pay for them. Then the argument is simply when and who pays.”
At this point Gambling interrupted Bloomberg to say, “And how much?”
“In the end you have to sort of do everything,” Bloomberg replied. “It would be less expensive to do a lot of maintenance today rather than to wait for the situation to get much worse. That was a mistake made in the 70’s.”
Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey slammed the agency for an earlier proposal for a much larger toll increase, although it was widely believed that their comments were merely a political tactic to make it seem like they fought for a smaller fare hike.
Bloomberg defended the two governors.
There are no secrets here. You can criticize Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie but they had no choice. They have to act responsibly. They have to get more revenue. I think most people think that those who use those services should be a very big part of that, maybe not all but a very big part, and the amount needed is as much dictated by the needs to pay the people who provide the service to redo the bridges and tunnels and that sort of thing as it is by the politics. The politics of any raise whether–it’s the MTA or the Port Authority, whether its taxes or anything else–everybody says, ’It’s too much. I don’t want to pay it.’ And nobody ever likes the people who raise the fees, taxes whatever. But to not do it would be totally irresponsible and Cuomo and Christie are responsible guys. They have a long term view.
But the mayor declined to say what the right raise would be.
“Is that the exact right level? It’s an answer. It’s a rational answer and that’s fine. Let’s do it. I am not happy about it and it doesn’t help commerce but the alternative would be a lot worse,” he said.
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