Earlier in the month, we whined reported about the discount Staten Island residents were due to get in the form of a reduced Verrazano Bridge toll. While MTA fares were being hiked citywide, we wondered what was so special about Staten Islanders that exempted them from the MTA’s crushing horribleness. Well, according to a report by SI Live, the deal that would have lowered bridge tolls for Staten Island residents and business owners has fallen through.
The now defunct plan would have cut the cost of commercial vehicles in half and lowered the E-ZPass resident discount from $6 to $5.50. According to Assemblyman Michael Cusick, the major reason that the proposed legislation got held up was because it would have represented the first toll discount plan for businesses anywhere in the state.
State Senator Diane Savino blamed the hold up on the MTA, saying that they were leery of suffering a big financial setback by approving the deal.
Hope for the plan still isn’t dead and State Senator Andrew Lanza believes that a deal can be struck sometime in May. Lanza maintained that the failure of the bill had more to do with its complexity than any real economic or political resistance:
“There were just too many moving parts for it to be part of the budget.”
Lanza said the plan was to have it become part of the overall budget’s municipal budget, but it “became a victim when other parts of that budget fell apart.”
He said that, post-budget, “we can come together to make this happen, possibly as part of the transportation part of the budget, which will give us time to work out some of the complexities.”
Lanza’s optimism was also shared by Savino, Cusick and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker.
So take heart, Staten Islanders, when the toll reduction likely gets passed in the spring, the rest of New York will be rightly jealous of Staten Island’s thwarting of the MTA and wondering, probably forever, why the rest of us have to swallow MTA fare hikes with practically no resistance.