A southern Brooklyn lawmaker wants to give commuters a discount on the bridge with the country’s most expensive toll.
The Tax Relief for Bridge Tolls Act, introduced on March 5 by Congressman Max Rose, would provide a credit to commuters who spend over $1,000 on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge annually. The legislation would save Staten Islanders about $215 and Brooklynites $1,091 each year, Rose announced at a press conference on Saturday.
“This bill will put hundreds, if not thousands of dollars back in the bank accounts of Staten Islanders and Brooklynites,” said Rose, a Democrat whose district encompasses Staten Island and a swath of southern Brooklyn. “If you want to see the money you’re spending on tolls go down, not up, then this bill is for you — and I am going to be doing everything I can to build support across the United States so that this bill can become law.”
The legislation would allow drivers to collect a 50 percent credit on all money spent on tolls over $1,000, and would apply to commuters who travel on bridges with a peak toll free of $11 or higher, including New Jersey’s Outerbridge Crossing, Goethals Bridge and Bayonne Bridge.
The Verrazzano currently charges E-ZPass holders $12.25 and non-E-ZPass holders $19 to enter Staten Island, while allowing Brooklyn-bound drivers in for free. The one-way tolling system, which was created in the 1980s to reduce traffic on the Staten Island side, is the only federally-mandated one-way toll in the country, but legislation passed in December will split the toll in two. Once the Metropolitan Transit Authority installs the new tolling infrastructure, E-ZPass holders will fork over $6.12 and other drivers will pay $9.50 — but the MTA has a long way to go before installing the new toll system, Staten Island Advance reported in late January.
As is, Brooklynites who commute to Staten Island every weekday pay $3,182.40 annually with an E-ZPass and $4,940 without one, while Staten Island residents with the resident discount pass pay $1,430 annually, according to Rose. Drivers will pay the same rate once split-tolling goes into effect, but the rep’s new bill would cut down Brooklynites’ annual toll fees to about $2,091 and Staten Islanders’ to $1,215.
The proposal comes almost a year after a group of state legislators introduced legislation that would give Brooklynites the same resident discount on the Verrazzano that Staten Islanders receive. In April of 2019, State Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus introduced legislation offering Brooklynites who cross the bridge 10 or more times per month a resident discount, charging them $5.50 per ride as opposed to $12.25. That bill is still awaiting a vote in the Senate’s transportation committee and has been referred to the Assembly’s committee on corporations, authorities and commissions.