Call it the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge or the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, either way the toll is way too high. And Brooklynites are being hit the hardest by having to cough up the $17 round trip fare.
The State Senate has finally passed a bill that will offer some relief, especially for those Brooklyn residents who travel to Staten Island for work or have family living there.
A reduced fare plan has been in effect for Staten Island residents who commute daily across the bridge to work in Manhattan or one of the boroughs. That same discount has never applied for Brooklyn residents who do the reverse commute.
According to State Sen. Marty Golden, the legislation would provide Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll relief to Kings County residents who utilize E-Z pass and who cross the bridge three or more times per month.
“The residents of Brooklyn, and in particular Southern Brooklyn, realistically have only one way to enter Staten Island and/or parts of New Jersey for employment, visiting relatives, and use of vacation properties,” Golden said. “Our families and businesses simply cannot afford to shoulder the burdens forced on them by the tolls at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge any longer.”
Brooklyn residents with E-Z pass pay $11.52, a 32% savings from the $17.00 toll. Staten Island residents pay $5.50.
For Amanda Alexander, who lives in Bay Ridge and teaches at P.S. 41-The Stephanie A. Vierno School on Staten Island, the toll reduction would cut her monthly travel cost in half. “Every four weeks I pay $230 in tolls commuting to work,” she told this paper. “A Staten Islander would pay $110 for the same number of trips. It would be a welcome savings.”
Golden said that this issue has been a constant complaint from borough residents. “On a very regular basis, Brooklyn residents express concerns about the regular rising cost of Verrazano Bridge toll, and see no end in sight to these increases,” Golden said, calling on his colleagues in the Assembly to “make this the year toll-relief happens.”
Assemblymember Peter Abbate himself has been championing the reduction of tolls for Brooklynites.
“As the sponsor of this bill in the Assembly, I have been trying to get toll relief passed for the Verrazano Bridge,” Abbate told this paper. “As one of the priciest tolls in the country, this is a serious issue for the residents of Southern Brooklyn as well as the rest of the city. I will continue to work on an agreement with my colleagues on the scope of the bill and the cost.”
In addition to the issue of toll hikes, Golden has led passage for legislation that seeks to correct the spelling of the Verrazano by adding the extra “z” back to the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano’s name. That bill was sent to the Assembly by Assemblymember Michael Cusick.
Golden called the Verrazano tolls the most expensive in the country and said that this legislation has taken too long. He told this paper that Brooklyn families deserve the same consideration as Staten Islanders. “While people in Staten Island can’t afford to get off the island, we can’t afford to get on it.”
Before any discount plan can take effect, the bill must be passed by the state Assembly. It would then be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.