Friday, July 16, 2010

New Cross Bay Bridge Toll Plan Will Cost You by Bryan Yurcan - Queens Chronicle

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The bulk of the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge rebate program that has been in place for residents of the Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel will soon be no more.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced this week that the program will be modified come July.

Under the old rebate program, participating residents of ZIP codes 11691, 11692, 11693, 11694, 11695 and 11697 who have an E-Z Pass are reimbursed $1.13 each time they cross the bridge using E-Z Pass. The toll charge is credited back to residents using MTA funds that come from the state mortgage recording tax.

However, the MTA said starting July 23 the Rockaway toll rebate program will be modified and residents within those six valid ZIP codes in the Rockaways and Broad Channel districts will pay a $1.13 toll for each of the first two trips across the Cross Bay Bridge. All subsequent trips taken on or during the same day on the same E-Z Pass tag will continue to be rebated to the account under the Cross Bay Resident Rebate program

The fare will be $2.75 for cash customers and $1.71 for non-resident E-ZPass customers. In addition, Rockaway residents may also purchase tokens, which cost $1.54 per trip. .

The MTA said the service change was approved to help close an $800 million budget deficit.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), blasted the agency’s decision.

“I am outraged by the MTA’s most recent attempt to balance their books on the backs of Broad Channel and Rockaway residents” said Ulrich. “In my opinion, this is just another unfair tax levied upon hard working New Yorkers, many of whom are already struggling to simply make ends meet. The MTA must get serious about its own inefficiencies and poor accounting practices before they reach into the pockets of people just trying to travel around their own community.”

The rebate plan is only valid at the Cross Bay Bridge for passenger vehicles. It does not apply to commercial trucks, motorcycles, taxis, buses or limousines.

In 2009, 3.6 million trips were taken by residents participating in the Cross Bay Resident Rebate program, according to the MTA.