Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Staten Island Democratic Assembly members Michael Cusick and Matthew Titone today announced that the Assembly's budget proposal will include a provision to reduce the resident toll for crossing of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to $5.50 and to expand the discount program to include commercial vehicles for businesses that are primarily located on Staten Island.
Commercial vehicles qualifying for the program would, for the first time, receive an approximately 50 percent discount on tolls.
"Earlier this week, I met with my colleagues, Assembly members Michael Cusick and Matt Titone, and representatives of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce to discuss ways to reduce the burden that tolls place on Staten Island residents and businesses," said Silver. "I am pleased that the Assembly Majority's budget proposal will provide real relief for Staten Islanders who for too long have had to live with high tolls."
Tolls for residents recently increased more than 50 cents to $6.36. The measure would not only roll back the recent increase but actually decrease tolls to $5.50 for residents. The total cost of the program is $14 million.
"For close to half a century, Staten Island has been supporting the infrastructure of the MTA through exorbitant tolls on the Verrazano Bridge. This proposal will actually cut the cost of the tolls on the Verrazano Bridge while implementing a much needed Staten Island business discount for these businesses that serve as the economic engine of our borough. I commend Speaker Silver for advancing this proposal forward and working for much needed relief," said Assemblyman Cusick.
"This represents real relief for Staten Islanders and our businesses that have had to bear the burden of excessive tolls. I am proud that we have been able to include funding to help our businesses in these very tough economic times. I commend the Speaker for listening to our concerns and acting swiftly and decisively to not only roll back and decrease tolls for residents, but also to create a discount program for the businesses that power our local economy," said Assemblyman Titone.
"Once again Speaker Silver has come through for the Staten Island business community. This is an incredible first step that will help circumvent the erosion of our bottom lines and enable us to expand, hire some additional personnel, and help jump start the Staten Island Economy," said Bob Cutrona of Project One Services.
"The Staten Island Chamber is extremely pleased that Speaker Silver listened to our concerns and took action on tolls. Today's announcement marks an enormous breakthrough for the Staten Island business community. By recognizing the immediate need for relief on the Verrazano Bridge for commercial vehicles, Speaker Silver has moved our borough one step closer to a fair, equitable and regional toll plan. He should be whole heartedly commended for working to ensure that our Island economy stays competitive, and that our businesses, jobs, and communities remain healthy and strong," stated Linda Baran, president and CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.
"MTA & Port Authority tolls are the most important single challenge facing the Staten Island economy. I thank Speaker Silver and the Staten Island elected delegation for their courage in taking a stand for the future of our borough and its resident companies. Well Done!" said Stephen Margarella, president of Margarella Industrial.