Friday, August 3, 2012

Toll discount bill passes House, but not a done deal

A bill designed to give local commuters a toll discount while making truckers and out-of-towners foot the bill has passed the U.S. House. While the intent of the bill is noble in an ongoing battle over excessive tolls, highway user groups say it ignores the negative consequences the action could have on interstate commerce, tourism and the economy.

HR897, which was introduced more than a year ago by U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, R-NY, aimed to give Staten Island residents a break from excessive bridge tolls. The bill passed by voice vote in the House on Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Greg Cohen, president of the American Highway Users Alliance, says the idea of cutting people a break on tolls is one thing, but the bill has far broader consequences in the way it is written.

“The language of the bill is drafted so broadly as to give the green light to any state or private tolling entity that wants to create separate tiers of pricing based on the residency of the drivers,” Cohen told Land Line.

I like the general idea of the bill. There is a toll road that makes my morning commute much more pleasant, but I rarely take it because I'd end up spending over $500 a year in tolls! I think locals should get a break. Tourists plan on spending money and won’t mind the one-time charge. But it can definitely take a toll on daily commuters, no pun intended. The part I disagree with is that truck drivers will also face higher tolls. Although they may not be daily commuters, they are just trying to do their job and with the rises cost of transportation, they have enough to worry about! What do you think?

Read the full story here.

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