Queens seniors deserve to travel to and from the Rockaways toll-free, according to one lawmaker.
With summertime approaching and temperatures rising, more people will be heading out to the Rockaways to enjoy some fun in the sun. But, according to Assemblyman Mike Miller, seniors who frequently make their way out to the peninsula are taking a hit to the wallet that many of them cannot afford.
Miller has written a letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast requesting that the tolls along the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, the only bridge connecting the Rockaway Peninsula with the rest of Queens, be suspended for seniors with E-ZPass.
The Cross Bay Bridge toll is one that Queens residents of all ages resent. It is the only crossing in the city where drivers must pay to travel between different parts of the same borough. Other lawmakers have made efforts in past years to reduce the toll for residents of the Rockaways and Broad Channel, with the hope of eventually eliminating the toll altogether.
Currently, those crossing into the Rockaways with E-ZPass must pay $2.08 in tolls. Miller feels seniors should be able to enjoy the Rockaways toll-free and patronize the boardwalk and local businesses.
“Seniors in my community who want to spend the day in the Rockaways are burdened with a $2.08 toll to enjoy their own borough,” Miller said. “The idea that seniors on a fixed income from Queens have to pay this toll is unjust. Seniors who travel to the Rockaways daily pay $20 a week, which is $80 a month.”
In his letter, Miller asks that Prendergast conduct a hearing regarding the suspension of tolls for seniors crossing the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.
“My hope is that the MTA will rescind the toll for seniors so that they can access the beaches of Queens toll-free,” Miller said.
The MTA has in place Rockaway Resident Rebate Program, which eliminates the toll for residents of the Rockaways.
“The Rockaway Resident Rebate already effectively makes the toll free at Cross Bay for all registered E-ZPass customers in the program,” an MTA spokesperson said.
But residents of Miller’s district, which covers portions of Glendale, Ridgewood and Woodhaven, do not qualify for that program, nor do residents in other areas of the “World’s Borough,” regardless of age.