NYS Senator Carlucci Doubles Down on a Bad Tappan Zee Bridge Tolling Idea

With the New NY Bridge construction in full swing, a recently released plan for upgraded bus service in the corridor and a projected completion/implementation date coming in 2018, the question on everyone’s mind is how much the tolls will be on the new bridge. Last week, New York State Senator David Carlucci of Rockland County jumped into the fray once again, and doubled down on a tax credit proposal he presented last year.

The proposal includes:

  • tougher penalties for toll evaders
  • a legislatively mandated 60 percent discount for community drivers
  • a $500 tax credit for community drivers
  • a study to determine if the New York State Thruway Authority and New York Bridge Authority could save money by merging

As MTR discussed last year, reducing costs for community users makes little sense when one considers that according to NYSTA, Thruway tolls are significantly less in comparison to other tolled roadways:

Click to zoom

Click to zoom

And that yearly costs of commuting across the bridge are much lower for drivers than transit riders in Carlucci’s district:

Commuter Mode

Daily Cost

Yearly Cost

TZB EZPass Car

$3

$720

TAPPAN ZEExpress Bus (TZx)

$4.40

$1,056

Metro North (Spring Valley, Nanuet, Pearl River to Midtown)

$14.40

$3,456

Coach Bus (Palisades Mall pick-up to Midtown)

$15

$3,600

Metro North (Suffern, Sloatsburg to Midtown)

$17.56

$4,236

(Source: Tri-State Transportation Campaign)

Another point to consider is that Carlucci’s plan would be legislating even deeper discounts for commuters than they already receive. Resident commuters are already subsidized by a commuter E-ZPass discount. Looking at the NYSTA Vehicle Trips, Miles and E-ZPass Statistics, based on Tappan Zee commuter usage and payments, it’s easy to see that commuters comprise over 20 percent of overall users, but pay less than 14 percent of overall tolls:

July 2015 TZB breakdown

Carlucci’s legislation would make this arrangement permanent, rather than providing the Thruway Authority the freedom to charge what it needs to pay for the bridge. The legislation would also go one step further, providing a tax credit of $500 for area commuters from New York taxpayers on top of the E-ZPass subsidy:

  • At the current rate of $720/year ($60/month for 12 months), the $500 tax credit would mean NYS tax payers would be further subsidizing area commuters by about 70 percent.
  • Assuming the toll doubles when the new bridge opens, as some have speculated, the NYS taxpayer subsidy would be about 35 percent.

As we wrote last year:

Instead of advancing this legislation, Senator Carlucci and other local and state leaders should be looking at ways to truly help improve their constituents quality of life and pocketbooks. He can start by offering options to pay for better transit service in the region, such as improved bus service along the I-287/Tappan Zee Bridge corridor, calling on Congress to restore parity for the transit commuter benefit, and being a champion for the Bergen Loop, which would directly benefit his constituents by creating a one seat ride to Midtown Manhattan.

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