ALBANY-Gov. David Paterson, on Thursday, endorsed the Ravitch Commission report on financing for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which proposes tolling the East River bridges while rejecting what the commission called “unacceptable” service cuts and double-digit fare hikes proposed by MTA. Recalling the “disincentivizing” service reductions of the 1960s and 1970s, which cost MTA 17% of its riders and New York City 5% of its population, Paterson said, “We don’t want to repeat that error, and raising fares 23% is going right back where we were then.” He asked that legislation be drawn up to implement the commission’s recommendations, but added that the proposals were “open to negotiation.”

The Ravitch report, in the works since June, identifies two new revenue sources for MTA: a one-third of 1% “mobility tax” to be levied on employer payrolls in the MTA Commuter District, and cashless tolling of the currently free bridge crossings into Manhattan. Tolls on the East River bridges would be initially set at the same rate as those imposed on the major MTA bridge and tunnel facilities to eliminate “bridge shopping,” and the toll rates imposed on the Harlem River bridges would equal the cost of a single-ride subway fare, the report states.

Headed by former MTA chairman Richard Ravitch, the commission says the mobility tax would raise $1.5 billion annually to cover debt service on a new MTA capital program. The bridge tolls would raise approximately $600 million annually for mass transit.

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