Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis on Friday, January 26 joined constituents from both sides of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to call on the MTA to establish a toll amnesty program to credit unfair violations issued thanks to the new cashless tolling system on the span.
According to Malliotakis – who represents portions of Bay Ridge and Staten Island – countless commuters have received violations of up to $100 per trip due to lack of notice or insufficient funds, poor screening of passengers in carpool lanes, and incorrectly identified Class 1 drivers.
The pol has thus called on the agency to implement an amnesty program similar to that which the New York State Thruway Authority established last year for violations received on the former Tappan Zee, now Mario Cuomo Bridge.
“Cashless tolling has its benefits, such as improving traffic flow and easing congestion at toll plazas. However, there are clear glitches within the system that need to be addressed,” said the pol from the Lily Pond Avenue entrance to the bridge on Staten Island. “The MTA should not be making a windfall on commuters if violations are due to glitches in the tolling system. I’m asking that the agency establish amnesty for violations received since cashless tolling went into effect on July 8, 2017.”
Over the last four days alone, 1,100 commuters were forced to pay balances totaling almost $50,000.
The pol also addressed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for an expansion of cashless tolling, arguing that there should be no additions made to the system until these issues are worked through — something, the MTA said, it is working on.
“Cashless Tolling has generated significant and sustained improvements for motorists and the environment through decreased travel times, reduced congestion, lower carbon emissions, and has improved safety throughout the system,” a spokesperson told this paper. “We have been in contact with Assemblyman [Michael] Cusick and Senator [Andrew] Lanza as well as other electeds since the beginning of cashless tolling and will continue to work collaboratively with them, as well as with our customers, to resolve any issues.”
The better to avoid being victims of unfair violations, Malliotakis urges all bridge-goers to sign up for e-mail and text alerts at www.ezpassny.com.
Cashless tolling went live on the Verrazano in early July.