Following last Wednesday’s vote by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (“MTA”) to increase the toll rate for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. today sent a letter to MTA Chairman Joe Lhota asking that the rate increase set to take effect in March 2012 be delayed in light of ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts in South Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Recchia represents the City Council’s 47th District, which encompasses Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, and Brighton Beach.
The text of the letter to Chairman Lhota appears below:
MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota
347 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10017
Dear Chairman Lhota,
I am writing you today to express my disappointment in the outcome of Wednesday’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (“MTA”) vote to increase the toll rate of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. This increase will place an additional financial burden on thousands of New Yorkers in Staten Island and South Brooklyn at a time when many are struggling to rebuild their homes and businesses in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. In light of ongoing recovery efforts, I implore you and the MTA to delay the implementation of this toll increase for at least a year and then reassess your decision.
As you are aware, the toll rate charged across the Verrazano Bridge is already the highest rate in the world at $13. The increase passed yesterday will raise this already burdensome rate by $2 dollars for those who pay cash, and $1.06 for those who use E-Z Pass. Residents of Staten Island who use E-Z Pass will see the rate increase from $5.76 to $6.36. During these difficult economic times, the last thing that these New Yorkers should have to face is an increase in travel expenses. Moreover, any additional out-of-pocket costs at this time for businesses and residents only further impedes rebuilding efforts.
Now is a time for all levels of government to work together with our constituents and businesses to facilitate the recovery efforts in our communities. In so doing, I believe that it is critical for us to find ways to alleviate the financial burdens on our families and businesses. Knowing your commitment to getting New York City back on its feet, I urge you and the MTA to readdress this issue at your next opportunity and delay the implementation of this toll increase for at least a year.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Domenic M. Recchia, Jr.
Council Member, 47th District
Chair of the Finance Committee