BY STATE SENATOR MARTY GOLDEN
$15.00. That’s how much it costs to cross the only bridge that connects Staten Island with the rest of New York City. Just last week, we heard the news that Staten Island residents will be now being eligible for a discount, making their daily trip $5.50. That’s less than half the E-ZPass rate for everyone else ($10.66 starting in March).
Let me be clear, Staten Island residents deserve a discount, because you cannot drive out of Richmond County without being tolled. Yet at the same time, the Verrazano Bridge affects the household budgets of many Brooklyn families in a very similar way, and relief is needed.
Many people, including myself, have family that lives in Staten Island. Many of my constituents work in Staten Island, and many of them send their children to school in Staten Island.
Even with the E-ZPass rate of $10.66 a trip, going to Staten Island five days a week will cost you $2,700 a year to travel back and forth to work, and that’s just the tolls.
This expense is both excessive and unreasonable. It both punishes and discourages anyone who travels to Staten Island. By charging residents of other boroughs almost $11 a trip, discounted, we put an unnecessary burden upon them.
But there is a solution that is fair, balanced and has been proven by the Port Authority system. Currently on the Goethals, Bayonne, and Outerbridge crossings, a 58 percent discount off the cash price applies, if you have an E-ZPass, and cross the bridge three or more times in a month.
I am calling for the MTA to enact the same discount on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. This would cost roughly $30 million a year, and save drivers $4.36 each time they cross the bridge. That would reduce the annual cost of $2,700 to just over $1,500. That’s a savings our middle class families truly need.
This plan can become a reality. I have already spoken with my colleagues in the Assembly and the Senate, and will continue to push for this result.
Call your elected officials and ask them to join me. Together, we can make driving into Staten Island affordable again.
State Senator Marty Golden represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and Manhattan Beach.