by Vincent Pellecchia, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
With the new Tappan Zee Bridge construction in full swing, a recently released plan for upgraded bus service in the corridor and a projected completion/implementation date coming in 2018, the question on everyone’s mind is how much the tolls will be on the new bridge. New York State Senator David Carlucci of Rockland County has doubled down on a tax credit proposal he presented last year.
His proposal includes:
- tougher penalties for toll evaders
- a legislatively mandated 60 percent discount for community drivers
- a $500 tax credit for community drivers
- a study to determine if the New York State Thruway Authority and New York Bridge Authority could save money by merging
Why Lower TZB Tolls For Locals When They Already Too Low Average?
The yearly costs of TZB commuting are already much lower for drivers than transit riders. Commuters who drive pay substantially less than those that take mass transit: the yearly cost of taking Metro North from Suffern to Midtown is almost six times higher than the toll paid by Tappan Zee EZPass commuters.
|Commuter Mode||Daily Cost||Yearly Cost|
|TZB EZPass Car||$3||$720|
|TAPPAN ZEExpress Bus (TZx)||$4.40||$1,056|
|Metro North (Spring Valley, Nanuet, Pearl River to Midtown)||$14.40||$3,456|
|Coach Bus (Palisades Mall pick-up to Midtown)||$15||$3,600|
|Metro North (Suffern, Sloatsburg to Midtown)||$17.56||$4,236|
Source: Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Another point to consider is that Carlucci’s plan would be legislating even deeper discounts for commuters than they already receive. Resident commuters are already subsidized by a commuter E-ZPass discount. Looking at the NYSTA Vehicle Trips, Miles and E-ZPass Statistics, based on Tappan Zee commuter usage and payments, it’s easy to see that commuters comprise over 20 percent of overall users, but pay less than 14 percent of overall tolls:
Carlucci’s legislation would make this arrangement permanent, rather than providing the Thruway Authority the freedom to charge what it needs to pay for the bridge. The legislation would also go one step further, providing a tax credit of $500 for area commuters from New York taxpayers on top of the E-ZPass subsidy:
Politics Across the Hudson
Author and former manager of planning at the MTA Philip Mark Plotch will talk about his new book, Politics Across the Hudson: The Tappan Zee Megaproject at the Nyack Library on September 24 at 7p. The book tells the behind-the-scenes story about the planning and politics of the new TZB.
Although Rockland residents will soon be able to drive over a safer and wider bridge, Plotch says the long road to building a new Tappan Zee Bridge abandoned other viable options, squandered hundreds of millions of dollars and forfeited more than $3 billion dollars in federal funds.
Plotch teaches political science at is a Saint Peter’s University.
- At the current rate of $720/year ($60/month for 12 months), the $500 tax credit would mean NYS tax payers would be further subsidizing area commuters by about 70 percent.
- Assuming the toll doubles when the new bridge opens, as some have speculated, the NYS taxpayer subsidy would be about 35 percent.
Instead of advancing this legislation, Senator Carlucci and other local and state leaders should be looking at ways to truly help improve their constituents quality of life and pocketbooks. He can start by offering options to pay for better transit service in the region, such as improved bus service along the I-287/Tappan Zee Bridge corridor, calling on Congress to restore parity for the transit commuter benefit, and being a champion for the Bergen Loop, which would directly benefit his constituents by creating a one seat ride to Midtown Manhattan.
Vincent Pellecchia is General Counsel at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
This article was originally published on http://blog.tstc.org on 9/3/2015
Photo Credit: ©2013 Alison Perry