Nyack, Jan 11 — Pols and Nyack businesses stood up NYS commuters last week announcing a new plan that would give drivers a break on the tolls they pay to get to work.
NYS Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) is championing a tax credit for commuters who travel through any of New York’s bridges and tolls throughout the state. Nyack Mayor Jen White and River Club owner Mike Hekker and his staff joined Carlucci at a press conference on Friday.
“Creating a new and innovative tax credit for commuters who use tolls is another way to keep the Hudson Valley affordable,” said Carlucci. “Commuters are the life force of our small businesses throughout the area.”
Driver’s who have to pay a toll as part of their daily commute would be able to claim up to $250 credit per person, if Carlucci’s initiative is adopted. For those married and filing jointly, the $250 credit maximum can be claimed for each spouse, as long as each spouse commutes separately and incurs these costs individually. The credit would be implemented beginning in the 2014 Income Tax year.
“Rockland County suffers from a serious lack of mass transit. There is no way to get to work at any of the major job centers to valuable jobs without paying a substantial toll,” said Nyack Mayor Jen White. “Until the mass transit options increase and improve a toll credit would be particularly helpful to our residents.”
Nearly 9 million residents throughout New York commute to work and pay a toll every single day. Tens of thousands travel across the New York State Thruway and use the Tappan Zee bridge. Annual costs for tolls across the Tappan Zee exceed $720 a year. Estimates for a new toll on the new Tappan Zee Bridge have been estimated to be as high as $16. Politicians have pledged to do with they can to lower that fee, but it’s unlikely any decision will be announced until after next November’s NYS gubernatorial election.
Peak E-Z Pass tolls on facilities such as the George Washington Bridge will increase by more than 10% every year until December 2015 when a one way peak bridge toll will be $12.50.
According to the New York State Thruway authority tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge scan over 500,000 commuter EZ passes every month, over 5 million annually. The Harriman toll which is also located in our area scans over 110,000 monthly commuters and 1,257,192 commuters annually.
Mike Hekker, owner of The River Club in Nyack, gets to see people commute to Westchester and NYC every day from his restaurant on the Hudson offering a spectacular view of the Tappan Zee Bridge. “Our entire business is based on people’s extra money. The price of gas and the cost of commuting is a big expense for our customers and employees. Since the recession we are all working harder for less money,” he said.