United States District Court, S.D. New York
ANGUS PARTNERS LLC d/b/a Angus Energy and WHITE CRANE MARTIAL ARTS, INC., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
JAY WALDER, individually and in his official capacity, JAMES FERRARA, individually and in his official capacity, METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY and TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE AND TUNNEL AUTHORITY d/b/a METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY BRIDGES & TUNNELS, Defendants
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
For Christine Mason Grant, Plaintiff: Karl E Osterhout, LEAD ATTORNEY, Osterhout Disability Law LLC, Oakmont, PA.
For Carolyn W Colvin, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant: Natalie E Olszewski, LEAD ATTORNEY, Social Security Administration, Dallas, TX.
Social Security Administration - Interested Party, Interested Party, Pro se.
OPINION AND ORDER
ANALISA TORRES, United States District Judge.
Plaintiffs, Angus Partners LLC d/b/a Angus Energy (" Angus Energy" ) and White Crane Martial Arts, Inc. (" White Crane" ) bring this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (the " MTA" ), the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (the " TBTA" ), Jay Walder, the Chairman and CEO of the MTA, and James Ferrara, the Acting President of the TBTA, alleging that their bridge and tunnel tolls violate the constitutionally-protected right to travel and the dormant Commerce Clause. Plaintiffs also assert common law claims under New York law for unjust enrichment and for money had
and received. Defendants move and Plaintiffs cross-move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' cross-motion is DENIED.
I. Overview of the MTA and the MTA Transportation Network
The MTA operates " North America's largest transportation network" and provides transportation services across New York City (the " City" ) and the greater metropolitan area. Herzog Decl. Ex. 1 (The MTA Network), ECF No. 50-1. The MTA is a public-benefit corporation and was chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1965. Id. In 1968, the MTA was given additional authorization to develop and implement transportation policy for the greater New York metropolitan area, and the TBTA and the New York City Transit Authority (the " NYCTA" ) were placed under the common control of the MTA board of directors (the " MTA Board" ). Herzog Decl. Ex. 9 (Report to Boards of MTA and TBTA) at MTATBTA-A 2894, ECF No. 50-9; see also N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § § 552, 1264. As provided in the authorizing statute,
[t]he purposes of the [MTA] shall be the continuance, further development and improvement of commuter transportation and other services related thereto within the metropolitan commuter transportation district. . . . It shall be the further purpose of the [MTA], consistent with its status as the ex officio board of both the [NYCTA] and the [TBTA], to develop and implement a unified mass transportation policy for such district.
N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § 1264 (emphasis added). The MTA has the power, among other things, to set tolls and fares, modify programs and operations, and issue debt to balance its budget and execute capital plans. See id. at § § 1265, 1266; Schnall Decl. Ex. M (MTA Board Approves 2009 Budget), ECF No. 77-13.
The MTA transportation network includes the following subsidiaries and affiliates: (1) the MTA Bus Company (" MTA Bus" ), a subsidiary of the MTA, which was created in 2004 and provides bus service in areas formerly served by seven private bus companies; (2) the Long Island Railroad (the " LIRR" ), a subsidiary of the MTA and a commuter railroad with eleven rail lines; (3) the Metro-North Railroad (the " MNR" ), a subsidiary of the MTA and a commuter railroad with three major lines serving New York City's northern suburbs; (4) the MTA Capital Construction Company (the " MTACC" ), a subsidiary of the MTA, which manages " mega-projects, including major system expansions and Lower Manhattan transit projects" ; (5) the NYCTA, an affiliate of the MTA, which operates the New York City subways, the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (the " SIRTOA" ), and more than 200 bus routes not operated by MTA Bus;  and (6) the TBTA, an affiliate of the MTA, which owns and oversees the operation of nine toll bridges and tunnels within the City. Herzog Decl. Ex. 1 (The MTA Network); Herzog Decl. Ex. 2 (Expert Report of Mitchell L. Moss, Ph.D. (the " Moss Report" )) at 6, 31, ECF No. 50-2. In addition, prior to 2012, the Long Island Bus Company (the " LIB" ), which provides bus service primarily within Nassau County, was operated by the MTA pursuant to an agreement with Nassau County. Herzog Decl. Ex. 3 (Deposition Transcript of
Hilary Ring (" Ring Tr." )) at 44, ECF No. 50-3. The MTA also operates the " Arts for Transit" program, which displays artwork throughout the MTA network, and the NYCTA operates a " Student MetroCard" program, which provides free and discount bus and subway fares to students. See id. at 8; Herzog Decl. Ex. 4 (Deposition Transcript of Douglas Johnson (" Johnson Tr." )) at 23-25, 69-70, 104-06, ECF No. 50-4. Together, the transportation services provided by the MTA transportation network extend across a portion of twelve counties in southeastern New York and two counties in southern Connecticut. Def. Resp. Pl. 56.1 ¶ 1, ECF No. 83.
In 2012, the total ridership on MTA public transportation was 2.6 billion, and more than more than 282 million vehicles used TBTA bridges and tunnels. Herzog Decl. Ex. 1 (The MTA Network). The 2012 total operating budget of the MTA was approximately $12.6 billion, Herzog Decl. Ex. 20, ECF No. 50-20, and the total operating budget for 2013 was $13.2 billion. Herzog Decl. Ex. 1 (The MTA Network). In 2012, MTA Bus had an annual ridership of approximately 120.9 million with an average weekday ridership of 390,685, and its 2013 operating budget was $661.8 million. Id. In 2012, the LIRR had an annual ridership of approximately 81.8 million with an average weekday ridership of 285,082, and its 2013 operating budget was $1.7 billion. Id. In 2012, the MNR had an annual ridership of approximately 83 million and average weekday ridership of 281,331, and its 2013 operating budget was $1.4 billion. Id. The 2013 operating budget of the MTACC was $35.2 million. Moss Report 32. In 2012, NYCTA subway and buses had an annual ridership of 2.3 billion with an average weekday ridership of 7,579,555, and the 2013 operating budget of NYCTA's subways and buses was $9.9 billion. Herzog Decl. Ex. 1 (The MTA Network). The SIRTOA, which is also operated by the NYCTA, has an annual ridership of 4.4 million with an average weekday ridership of 15,993, and its 2013 operating budget was $53.7. Id. In 2012, TBTA saw more than 282 million vehicle crossings over its bridges and tunnels with average weekday crossings of 798,117, and its 2013 operating budget was $586.5 million. Id. " [Four] of every [five] rush-hour commuters to New York's central business districts (CBDs) take mass transit." Moss Report 5.
In addition to the MTA, a number of other state and local public entities provide transportation services and maintain bridges, roads, and tunnels in the greater New York metropolitan area. See Schnall Decl. Exs. C-K, ECF Nos. 77-3-77-11. The New York City Department of Transportation, for example, operates the Staten Island Ferry and a number of bridges and tunnels connecting Manhattan with the surrounding boroughs. See Schnall Decl. Exs. B, D, ECF Nos. 2, 4. There are other public authorities, such as the New York State Thruway Authority and the New York Bridge Authority, which operate bridges and tunnels in the City. See Schnall Decl. Exs. G, H, ECF Nos. 77-7, 77-8. Across the larger New York metropolitan area, the majority of bridges and highways, both tolled and non-tolled, are operated by public entities with no affiliation or subsidiary relationship to the MTA or TBTA. See Schnall Decl. Schnall Decl. Exs. D, I-K, ECF Nos. 77-4, 77-9-77-11.
II. The TBTA
A. History and Legislative Overview of the TBTA
The TBTA, also referred to as MTA Bridges & Tunnels, was created by New
York State in 1933 as a public-benefit corporation to construct the Triborough Bridge. Moss Report 25; Herzog Decl. Ex. 1 (The MTA Network). Originally chaired by Robert Moses, the TBTA was authorized to collect tolls, which allowed it to be self-supporting and to finance the bridge's construction. Moss Report 25. Under Moses' control, the TBTA had considerable autonomy to finance additional capital projects and to construct bridges, tunnels, roads, and other infrastructure in the City. Id. at 25-26. Moses, who created several other authorities (including the Henry Hudson Parkway Authority, the Marine Parkway Authority, and the New York City Parkway Authority) and oversaw numerous construction projects, consolidated these authorities into the TBTA in 1940. Id. In 1946, the TBTA merged with the New York City Tunnel Authority. Id. at 25. Following this merger, all of New York's bridge and tunnel authorities were consolidated into a single entity under Moses' control. Id.
In 1968, the New York State Legislature passed legislation converting the TBTA into an MTA affiliate and placing the TBTA under the common control of the MTA Board, " effectively ending Robert Moses' reign." Id. at 26; see also N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § 1264. This legislation granted the MTA the authority to use the TBTA's surplus revenues in furtherance of the MTA's mission to " develop and implement a unified mass transportation policy for [the metropolitan commuter transportation district]." Id.; see also Moss Report 26. Subsequent legislation required the transfer of " twenty-four million dollars plus fifty percentum of the balance of [the TBTA's] operating surplus to the [NYCTA]" and specified that " the remainder shall be allocable to [the MTA] on behalf of the commuter railroads operated by it, by its subsidiary corporations or by others under joint arrangements." N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § 1219-a(2)(b); see also Moss Report 26. The New York State Legislature has since given the MTA additional authority to use TBTA surplus revenues to pay debts on behalf of the MTA and the NYCTA, to fund capital projects, and to address critical transportation needs. Id.; see also N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § § 552(2), 553(9), (12), (17), 569-c, 1219-a, 1269, 1270-d. This has enabled the MTA to issue bonds backed by TBTA revenues (including future toll revenues), which " continues to be essential for regional mobility by supporting transit, bridges, and tunnels." Moss Report 26. The MTA Board is required by law to balance the MTA's budget and to close its budget deficit. See Schnall Decl. Ex. M (MTA Board Approves 2009 Budget). The MTA Board continues to set TBTA and NYCTA tolls and fares, modify operations throughout the MTA network, and issue debt in furtherance of that objective. See id.; N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § § 1265, 1266.
B. TBTA Facilities and Tolls
The nine toll bridges and tunnels currently operated by the TBTA are the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly, the Triborough Bridge), the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, the Henry Hudson Bridge, the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (formerly, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel). N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § § 553; Herzog Decl. Ex. 1 (The MTA Network). In 2012, 282.8 million vehicles travelled across the bridges and tunnels owned and overseen by the TBTA. The TBTA has 1,545 employees. Id.
As of March 3, 2013, the tolls charged by the TBTA are as follows: the toll to cross the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges
Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridges is $3.75; the toll to cross the Henry Hudson Bridge is $5.00; and the toll to cross each of the remaining bridges and tunnels is $7.50. Moss Report 30-31. The $15.00 round-trip toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is only collected one-way, as required under federal law. See Herzog Decl. Ex. 5 (Crossing Charges), ECF No. 50-5. The TBTA also accepts tokens as payment for access to certain bridges, and these tokens are sold in prepaid books or rolls. Id. Drivers paying with tokens pay $2.50 rather than $3.75 to cross the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges. Id.
Drivers who are customers of the New York E-ZPass Customer Service Center (" NYCSC E-ZPass" ) are eligible for lower toll rates than non-customers. See id ; Moss Report 30 n.108. NYCSC E-ZPass customers are charged a $2.00 toll to cross the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridges; $2.44 to cross the Henry Hudson Bridge; and $5.33 each way to cross each of the remaining TBTA bridges and tunnels. Herzog Decl. Ex. 5 (Crossing Charges); see also Moss Report 30-31. The $10.66 NYCSC E-ZPass round-trip toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is only collected one-way. See Herzog Decl. Ex. 5 (Crossing Charges). " Anyone, regardless of residency, can apply for a New York Customer Service Center-issued E-ZPass tag." Id.
The TBTA is a member agency in the E-ZPass Interagency Group, which provides toll collection systems in fourteen states. See id. Prior to 2009, the MTA and TBTA offered discounted rates to all vehicles using an E-ZPass transponder irrespective of whether the transponder was obtained through the NYCSC or from another agency in another state. Schnall Decl. Ex. II (Deposition Transcript of Dore Abrams (" Abrams Tr." )) at 47-48, ECF No. 73-35. In 2009, the MTA and TBTA implemented a toll increase which eliminated the discounts on all non-NYCSC E-ZPasses but kept in place discounts for customers who pay tolls using an NYCSC E-ZPass. Id. Dore Abrams, the director of the operating budget at the TBTA, testified that this change was implemented after the MTA became aware that " other agencies in other states that had their own customer service center weren't offering the lower toll to [NYCSC] tag holders." Id. at 48. Abrams testified that the decision was made at the " MTA level" and that " the people I work for felt that it was a legitimate way of increasing revenue and maintaining consistency with the other agencies." Id. at 49.
Residents of Staten Island are eligible to receive additional discounts on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and residents of the Rockaways and Broad Channel are eligible to receive additional discounts and State-funded rebates on the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridges. See Moss Report 31. On the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the discount toll for residents of Staten Island paying by token is $8.53, and the NYCSC E-ZPass rate is $6.00. Herzog Decl. Ex. 5 (Crossing Charges). On the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridges, the discount toll for residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel paying by token is $1.79, and the NYCSC E-ZPass rate is $1.31. Id. The constitutionality of the differential residence-based tolls charged on these bridges was recently recognized by the Honorable Paul A. Engelmayer in Janes v. Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Auth., 977 F.Supp.2d 320 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 16, 2013).
III. TBTA Budget and Revenue Transfers
In 2013, the TBTA had an operating budget of $586.5 million, ...