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Verrazano Toll Reduction Passes Despite Grumbling from Some MTA Board Members

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The cost of crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge got shaved slightly for some Staten Island residents and commercial drivers Wednesday, but it didn't come without some wrangling. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

It's about to get slightly cheaper for Staten Islanders who use E-ZPass to drive home over the Verrazano Bridge, down from $6 to $5.50. And yes, those who get behind the wheel like that.

"E-ZPass is always knocking on my door, saying, 'Hey, we need more money, we need more money,'" said one person. "So this is going to definitely help us."

Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the deal, which also allows commercial drivers with a New York State E-ZPass to get a 20 percent discount if they cross the bridge 10 or more times a month.

On Wednesday, though, it ran into resistance from several Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members.

"When we give to one component, we are belittling the others," said MTA board member Susan Metzger.

Former MTA chairman Richard Ravitch questioned why the MTA would let $7 million slip away, saying the move defies "common sense."

"I feel strongly enough about this, remembering all the battles that I fought to eke out every possible penny of revenue for this authority," Ravitch said.

Not that Governor Andrew Cuomo was all that rattled.

"I disagree with him," Cuomo said.

However, current MTA board members and transit advocates disagreed with the governor.

"I live in a little place called Brooklyn, and we cross that same bridge, and we're the ones that pay the toll you're always citing as a horrible toll," said MTA board member Norman Brown.

"Toll relief is not a strategy that address Staten Island's long-term transportation needs," said Joseph Cutrufo of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "An investment in faster, more frequent, convenient bus service is a better use of MTA and state funds."

The discount isn't the only break for getting to Staten Island. Those who questioned the deal pointed out that Staten Islanders already ride for free on the ferry, and that they don't have to pay for the Staten Island Railway, except for at two stations.

Still, it passed, with plenty of grumbling.

"At the end of the day, I think that is a state initiative, not an MTA initiative," said MTA board member Mark Page.

Meaning that the governor got what he wanted.

The discount is set to take effect on April 1.

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