A Johnston legislator has proposed a tax credit to EZ-Pass account holders who use the electronic payment system to cross the Newport Bridge and several local representatives are on board.
Rep. Stephen R. Ucci (D-Johnston, Cranston) said in a press release that the bill is meant to help drivers recover some of the cost of using the Newport Bridge.
"It’s an added expense to have to travel across a toll bridge constantly," Ucci explained. "Some of these folks have to use their EZ-Pass five days per week just to get to and from work. In this economy, everyone needs a little extra assistance and this specific population of people is getting hammered with fees."
According to the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority website, Rhode Island residents pay $25 to activate an account and up to $33 for a transponder that charges the account 83 cents each trip to cross the bridge. Members add funds to the account every six weeks according to use.
The EZ-Pass system netted RIBTA about $11 million during fiscal 2011, about 60 percent of its overall toll collections, according to the authority's 2011 financial statements.
In February, RIBTA's board voted to increase the cash (non-EZ-Pass) toll to $5 per vehicle and the EZ-Pass fee to $1 beginning July 1, NewportPatch reported.
Ucci's bill is co-sponsored by several representatives from towns near the Bridge, including Reps. Peter Martin (D-Newport), Deborah Ruggiero (D-Jamestown, Middletown), J. Russell Jackson (D-Newport, Middletown), and Richard P. Morrison (D-Bristol, Warren).
The proposal has been referred to the House Finance Committee for a hearing to be scheduled.
What do you think?
Is Ucci's bill a good idea? Do you think drivers who regularly use EZ-Pass on the Newport Bridge should get something back at the end of the year?
Or do you think that the state just can't afford to pay those drivers back?
Cast your vote in our poll below, and sound off by posting your comments.