Bronx residents received an early holiday present this week when Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the long-awaited Henry Hudson Bridge toll rebate will go into effect Feb. 2024.
But is it enough for those who depend on some sort of vehicle to do their job if they have to regularly head to midtown and downtown Manhattan? Especially, when you consider the congestion pricing plan for Manhattan is due to take effect soon.
All drivers in the five boroughs should be given some kind of special dispensation for being New York City residents.
Originally slated to start in 2020, the Covid pandemic put the rebate on hold. Now that it will go into effect, all Bronx residents using the bridge who have an active E-ZPass New York customer service account will receive an instant rebate when they cross the bridge. They will be charged $3.18 for the one-way toll and then will be credited $3.18 immediately to their E-ZPass account.
The rebate, which will be funded by the Outer Borough Transportation Account created in 2018, came about as part of the 2019 state budget negotiations to get the ball rolling on congestion pricing in Manhattan’ central business district. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz led the drive for the rebate to give Bronx residents somewhat of a respite from ever-increasing tolls.
“I worked very hard during the budget negotiations to make this available for all Bronxites,” he said late last week. “It is only fair that residents of the Bronx are not subjected to an extra toll when crossing this particular bridge into Manhattan, especially given that every other bridge providing access to Manhattan from the Bronx is toll-free.”
State Sen. Gustavo Rivera called the rebate a “welcome perk for those eligible residents in my district who use the Henry Hudson Bridge.”
More than 75,000 vehicles cross the bridge each weekday and more than 63,000 on the weekends, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. And the rebate would cost about $6 million a year in lost revenue. But that is why Dinowitz made sure to money from the Outer Borough Transportation Account to pay for the rebate.
On the other hand, the MTA board approved the congestion pricing plan for vehicles entering Manhattan from 60th Street to the tip of the financial district downtown recently.
Under the congestion pricing plan, passenger vehicles would be charged $15, trucks anywhere from $24-$36 depending on size and motorcycles $7.50. Taxis would face a $1.25 surcharge per ride and rideshare services a $2.50 surcharge. The rates would be in effect from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. each weekday, and 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on the weekends. There would be lower rates after 9 p.m.
For Bronx residents, it’s worth Assemblyman Dinowitz and Sen. Rivera reaching out one more time to Gov. Hochul to see if there is more help Bronx drivers can receive before the congestion pricing plan is implemented.