Toll Rebate Fight & Civil Liberties Do Not Mix

One of the sub-battles in the proposed doomsday scenario that has not gotten much publicity is the fight by some Queens communities to starve off the elimination of the toll rebate program on the Cross Bay Bridge. Residents & community leaders have done things from civil disobedience to protests with the intention of showing they are serious about saving this toll rebate.

Now comes the next chapter which could come in the form a lawsuit for of all things, violating the First Amendment. Brendan Brosh of the New York Daily News has more in this report:

A SOUTHERN Queens community is trying to enlist the help of a civil liberties group in its fight against a proposal to abolish a decade-old toll rebate program on the Cross Bay Bridge.

In a creative legal strategy, community leaders in Broad Channel and Rockaway say that removing the rebate violates locals’ First Amendment rights, provisions of the state Constitution and the City Charter.

“We have to pay a tax, in the form of a toll, to travel within our own community,” said Community Board 14 member Michael Tubridy, who wrote a letter to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Broad Channel and Rockaway drivers with E-ZPasses are charged $1.03 for crossing the bridge. It is then immediately remitted in a rebate. The program was put in place in 1998 after nearly three decades of protests.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed rescinding the rebate to alleviate recent budget woes. The agency estimates it could save $3.6 million a year if the rebate is removed.

Click here for the complete report.

I understand the complaints of these residents & local leaders who feel it would be unfair to have to pay to travel within their own borough. For many in these communities, driving is the only source of legitimate transportation available considering the subpar bus & subway service in the area. Unlike some, I am not foolish or idiotic enough to truly believe that driving is a luxury for most drivers. However even with saying that, I feel suing based on violations of the First Amendment is quite the stretch.

I honestly do not see what legitimate ground they could stand on if this case were to be presented. I am sorry but bringing religion in as a way to fight this off is beyond ludicrous. When I read things like this, I find it hard to support their cause as I feel my intelligence is being insulted. If I were them, I would seek a more legitimate angle to focus on in their fight to save the toll rebate.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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