TRENTON – Following a vote yesterday by the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to provide sizeable bridge toll discounts to Staten Island commuters, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Assemblyman John Wisniewski urged the bi-state agency to exercise fairness and extend the same discount to New Jersey commuters.
“It’s completely incomprehensible as to why New Jersey residents should have to pay record-high toll rates, while Staten Island commuters have their rate rolled back 10 years,” said Wisniewski, Chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “I can’t condemn Governor Cuomo for advocating for his constituents, but I am condemning Governor Christie for not advocating for his.”
“This effectively amounts to a rollback of the September toll hikes for Staten Islanders, while New Jersey residents are left holding the bulk of the tab,” said Vainieri Huttle. “This is completely unjustifiable, especially in light of the lack of transparency, and should be rectified in the interest of fairness. Residents on both sides of the river have been hit hard by this economy and they all deserve a break.”
The lawmakers sent a letter to Port Authority Chairman David Samson and Deputy Executive Director William Baroni requesting that a comparable discount plan be developed quickly for New Jersey commuters. They also chastised the Port Authority for continuing to operate in a less than transparent manner by posting the board’s agenda well past the promised 3 p.m. deadline the day before a vote and also providing no details of the plan other than a vague description that it was regarding “Vehicular crossings – New York/New Jersey/Staten Island bridges program.”
Under the plan approved by the board, Staten Island commuters who travel across the Outerbridge Crossing, Bayonne Bridge, or Goethals Bridge three times in one month utilizing EZ-Pass will pay just $4.75 per toll for the remainder of the month, the lowest peak rate in 10 years according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. However, this reduced fare is not available to drivers utilizing the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, or Holland Tunnel, which could end up costing New Jersey commuters as much as $128 more per month to commute than a Staten Island resident.