Ridge pol demands toll relief for Brooklynites

A bridge too far
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The toll is too d— high!

The famously exorbitant toll for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge rose on March 19, and now fed-up Ridge Councilman Vincent Gentile is calling on the Metropolitan Transit Authority to extend the discount EZ-Pass-using Staten Islanders have enjoyed for the last two years to drivers on the Brooklyn side of the span.

“On our side of the Narrows, students, professionals, and blue collar workers are tired of listening to the same old tune by the [Metropolitan Transit Authority],” said Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) in a video released March 14.

“I am calling on them to play fair once and for all by instituting the same toll discount plan given to Staten Islanders to Brooklynites.”

On March 19, the bridge’s cash toll rose from $16 to $17 en route to bucolic Staten Island, while drivers with an EZ-Pass have to fork over $11.52, up from $11.08, while Staten Islanders with the toll-payment gizmo only have to cough up $5.74, up from $5.50.

Gentile penned a letter to the Metropolitan Transit Authority last week demanding the agency extend the Staten Island toll discount to those who live on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. The pol’s plan would also extend the discount program to residents across the borough who traverse the span more than 10 times a month. And more than 1,300 Brooklynites have signed the pol’s online petition backing the plan.

Gov. Cuomo gifted Rock residents the EZ-Pass perk in 2015. But it was never institutionalized in the state budget until Cuomo announced he’d make the break permanent at a State of the State addresses on Jan. 9 — kicking up a wave of criticism from Brooklynites eager for similar treatment.

Now that the toll has spiked with no relief in sight, fed-up Brooklynites are calling on the state to offer them some relief. It’s a no-brainer, said one local.

“That toll is a killer. If Staten Island gets a discount, so should Brooklyn,” said Ridgite Danny Visco, who regularly visits his sister in Staten Island. “Everything is going up — the tolls are going up, MetroCard fares are going up — but you know what isn’t going up? My paycheck.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.