Staten Island lobbies for toll relief for truckers

With the Sept. 18 deadline fast approaching for the New York/New Jersey Port Authority’s toll increase at all of its crossings, there has been no word yet on whether truck drivers who frequently cross the bridges that connect New York City and New Jersey will receive any kind of discounts

With the Sept. 18 deadline fast approaching for the New York/New Jersey Port Authority’s toll increase at all of its crossings, there has been no word yet on whether truck drivers who frequently cross the bridges that connect New York City and New Jersey will receive any kind of discounts. The silence on truck toll discounts “is anything but golden,” according to a report by Staten Island Live.

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro has been lobbying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office for a Staten Island resident and trucker toll discount, citing that huge increases to truckers will be passed along to consumers of the goods that enter the Island by truck. Molinaro is also concerned that the hikes could potentially spell doom for the New York Container Terminal in Mariners Harbor. NYCT employs about 300 residents and is the third-largest employer on Staten Island. Two shipping lines have left or are in the process of leaving NYCT based, in part, on the ever-increasing tolls, he pointed out.

Truck drivers who use E-ZPass will see their rates jump from $40 to $50 by mid-September and top out at $90 by 2015 — a 135% increase. Truckers paying cash will have to fork over $165 by 2015 to cross any of the Port Authority bridges for a typical five-axle rig.

“We discussed it ... with the (New York) governor’s office,” Molinaro said of a possible truck-driver discount. Molinaro has not received any definitive answer to his multiple requests for a discount, and any savings would have to be “acceptable to both sides,” meaning that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office would also have a say in the matter.

State Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore) and state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) have already introduced legislation that would require the Port Authority board members to attend any future public meetings regarding toll hikes and require at least two meetings to be held in each affected county, Titone said.

Titone also told SI Live that he and Lanza are pushing for a yearly audit, since he said the Port Authority loses $82 million annually from running its Bus Terminal on 42nd Street in Manhattan. There is $1 billion unaccounted for in the Port Authority’s budget, he added.

“Let me repeat that: They cannot account for almost $1 billion,” Titone said.

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