Legislature Calls For Bridge Toll Discount

Rockland County legislators voted 10-0 Tuesday to urge the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge Toll Advisory Panel to recommend discounted tolls for Rockland bridge users.

The resolution followed a public input meeting held by the toll advisory panel. Legislators Harriet Cornell and Nancy Low-Hogan both addressed the toll advisory panel and submitted written comments. They are also the sponsors of the resolution adopted by the County Legislature.

“Rockland County has far fewer options when it comes to public transportation and getting into Westchester or New York City for a job or a cultural event,” Legislator Cornell said. “That fact must be acknowledged and one way is to provide steeply discounted toll rates to Rockland County bridge users. The cost of building the new bridge and of operating the Thruway system cannot fall on the backs of Rockland County residents and businesses.”

Although Rockland is a member of the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District, it is the least served by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It is estimated that Rockland County residents and businesses contribute $42 million more in funding to the MTA than they receive in the form of services.

The lack of public transportation options means that more than 60 percent of Rockland residents who work in Manhattan, Westchester County or Connecticut either drive or carpool, and the estimate doesn’t include the residents who are forced to drive to the theater, museums, restaurants, sporting and other events in New York City.

“It is estimated that the current $5 bridge toll will at least double after 2020,” Legislator Low-Hogan said. “We can’t expect hard-working Rockland County families and businesses to pay twice the amount. It’s simply not economically feasible.”

The toll has been kept stable through a $2 billion infusion to the Thruway Stabilization Fund in the State budget. The funding is expected to be depleted in 2020.

Legislators voted to urge that a graduated toll discount program for residents and local commuters be put in place.

“It is a reasonable and fair way for the state to acknowledge and compensate Rockland bridge users for the undue burden they contend with when they need to cross the Hudson River,” Legislator Low-Hogan said.