Judge Rules That Verrazano Pricing Structure Is Constitutional

Source: jasoneppinke via Flickr
Source: jasoneppinke via Flickr

A federal judge ruled that the MTA was well within its rights to charge different prices for different people on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. According to a report by Court Reporter News, US District Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled against a trio of residents who waged a lawsuit against the MTA, arguing that the high costs for non-Staten Island natives to use the bridge was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The issue of the cost of tolls on the Verrazano Bridge is one we have covered extensively. Many have argued that the prices on the bridge are outrageously high. As it stands right now, non-Staten Island residents paying with cash fork over $15 for the right to cross the bridge, or $10.66 if they have E-Z Pass – the highest bridge toll in the nation. If you are a Staten Island resident, you pay $8.53 in cash or $6.36 for E-Z Pass users (dropping to $6 after three round trips taken in a month). The non-Staten Island residents bringing the lawsuit against the MTA argued that this system was unconstitutional. Judge Engelmayer thought differently:

“The tolls on the bridges here are not, in an absolute sense, so high as to constitute more than a minor burden on travel,” Engelmayer wrote.
Riva Janes and the other plaintiffs “have not demonstrated that such a toll presents more than a minor restriction on travel,” the judge added.
Because the Verrazano is the longest suspension bridge in the United States, “a higher charge for use of such a facility, in one of the most expensive cities in the world, is not unreasonable,” the decision states. “It does not shock the conscience.”…
“Plaintiffs point to no case, within this circuit or beyond, in which a differential toll policy has been held in an ‘invidious distinction’ so as to require application of strict scrutiny,” Engelmayer wrote. “Instead, in every case of this type, courts have held that a differential toll policy does not violate the right to travel.”

Well, let’s face it, throughout human history, tolls collected on bridges have caused controversy, and fights led against them are not easily won.

Take the advice of Little John from Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

“A toll is a toll, and a roll is a roll. And if we don’t get no tolls, then we don’t eat no rolls.”

Wise words.