In an opinion today, Judge Torres granted the MTA summary judgment in a suit challenging the practice of charging higher bridge and tunnel tolls to customers using EZ Pass cards (or transponders) purchased out of state. She found no discrimination against out-of-staters because they, too, are free to purchase discounted, in-state EZ Pass transponders:
To the extent that Plaintiffs argue that individuals or businesses with NYCSC transponders and accounts benefit relative to those lacking such articles, Plaintiffs’ position fails . . . . Any person or business, regardless of residency, can obtain a NYCSC E-ZPass transponder and thereby receive discounted tolls on TBTA bridges and tunnels, and there is nothing in the record to suggest that motorists are prohibited from owning and using more than one transponder . . . [T]he evidence demonstrates that any burden associated with non-discounted tolls falls on in-state and out-of-state interests alike. Specifically, the record indicates that New York residents who pay in cash or via a non-NYCSC transponder pay precisely the same tolls as out-of-state motorists who pay in the same manner, whereas out-of-state motorists who pay the tolls via NYCSC E-ZPass receive the same discounts as New York residents . . . . [T]he MTA’s decision to implement differential toll rates is not evidence of a retaliatory or protectionist purpose. Contrary to Plaintiffs’ characterization, . . . the MTA implemented its differential toll discount policy to maintain consistency with other agencies with similar policies.