New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Five Dollars

As far as money goes, New Yorker's are like most other Americans - they like a deal and FREE screams loudest to them. 
People at trade shows collect enormous numbers of brochures they will never read or wait in huge lines for premiums and freebees worth virtually nothing. I have seen adult men and women practically brawl over free T-Shirts thrown into an audience at a Macworld convention.
With free food it is even worse. At the Japan Festival in Central Park on Sunday, people were in lines hundreds deep, waiting in the hot sun for free noodles or a free dumpling. 
When it comes to tunnels, bridges and other roadway tolls, many seasoned New Yorkers consider it a matter of principle and a source of pride to avoid paying a toll. Ironically, in most other ways, New Yorkers spend huge amounts of money for conveniences - prices for items at a green grocer can be substantially more for identical items at a supermarket a few extra steps away. There are endless examples of this behavior. Yet put the same people behind the wheel of a car and give them the option to wait in horrendous traffic to avoid paying a toll and they will. 
If you are coming from the outlying neighborhoods of Brooklyn by car, you will most likely use the Belt Parkway or Prospect Expressway and then a leg of the Gowanus Expressway. If you are heading to Manhattan, you have a big life altering decision to make - do you take the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel for FIVE DOLLARS or cram into the bumper to bumper traffic on the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) and take one of the bridges for FREE?
By now the answer is obvious, n'est-ce pas? Any self respecting New Yorker takes the free road and save five dollars (perhaps to spend it whimsically soon after at Starbucks). Admittedly, five dollars is quite a bit of money for a short tunnel ride, however anyone driving a car into Manhattan is already indulging in a luxury that most can not afford, so why not spend five dollars and go in style?
These were my thoughts on Saturday evening when, coming back from my adventures in Brooklyn after an exhausting day of driving, I decided to do the unthinkable and spend five dollars for the tunnel experience. It was extraordinary. The highway spur to the tunnel (top photo) and the tunnel itself (bottom photo) were virtually empty. 
I was back in Manhattan in a few short minutes, while thousands jammed onto the BQE. Of course, many of these travelers were not headed to Manhattan, but trust me on this - if there were no toll for that tunnel, I would have had plenty of company. And, of course, an extra five dollars ...

Photo note: Against better judgement, these photos were taken one-handed while driving. Camera shake, shutter speed, aperture - no time for these considerations. After spending $5, I was feeling rather reckless anyway :)


Beth in NYC said...

I always take the Queensboro Bridge (59th Street Bridge) when I return to the city from Long Island or Queens. Why pay the $5 at the tunnel toll? :-) I usually don't face too much traffic using that method.

I like the pictures. The blurriness implies speed and makes them look dreamy.

Andrea (ace1028) said...

What scares me is that 3 years out of NYC and I knew that was what the pictures were of without reading the post first. I agree, though, we were normally tunnel people, but took the bridge now and then to avoid the fee and the traffic. Plus it's a better view! I cant believe the Battery Tunnel is up to $5 now, tho. It's all about the E-Z Pass!

Brian Dubé said...

Beth - Good strategy from Long Island or Queens. I go down the BQE to the Williamsburg Bridge is what I usually do (I live downtown Manhattan).
Andrea - EZ Pass does give a small discount. But the tolls are outrageous. The Holland Tunnel is up to $8.

Mary (Clove Spice) said...

That's $8. paid coming in to NYC only. Going out is free. The NYC only tunnels charge $5. each way. That's a $10. round trip.

Mary said...

Btw--using the Bklyn battery Tunnel outbound saves a good half hour of time going to Staten Island.

Anonymous said...

At current gas prices, idling in bumper to bumper traffic will quickly add up to 5$ anyway !

Michelle Johnson said...

Being from a small town I'm surprised at these tolls, so expensive. But, I guess if you want to pass quickly and not sit idle then paying that $5 is worth it. I agree w/ Beth about your pics they allow a certain dreaminess.