Consumer Comp For BridgeGate

A Modest Proposal: Make the perps pay the victims Attention for the three days of the George Washington Bridge lane closings has focused on who did it. Yet hardly a word about compensation for losses by the victims.  The closings were done hands-on by at least two Christie-appointed people. (More may follow from the ongoing investigations.) Pundits—perhaps using the questions below—should now open up the connection of accountability to compensation.  

How can commuters prove they were caught in the crush? The GWB is the busiest bridge in America. Last year 49.4 million eastbound cars crossed it, or about 134,000 per day. A significant portion uses NJ EZ-Pass, which records every eastbound EZ-Pass vehicle, a number alone that was in the thousands.  

How might compensation be calculated? The cost of fuel for two extra hours for each day of delay one would be about $8. Using $20/hour for loss of time is $40, low but reasonable. If ever a punitive penalty were in order, BridgeGate is it: Adding $452 makes the fine $500 per day in comp for reckless delay. Some folks would get $500, others $1000 to $1500.  

How much might perps have to pay? For every 1,000 E-ZPass cars, the perps would have to pay $500,000. The E-ZPass total alone could hit the millions. Might it bankrupt the perps? Maybe. Who cares: it’s a classic of punishment fitting the crime.  

What good would come from making perps pay?  Accountability for politicians: Paying up would establish a precedent of meaningful accountability for political appointees who do “stupid” things—Governor Christie’s word for what the perps did. Justice for Consumers: Commuters lost money as a result of BridgeGate. Revenues for NJ E-ZPass: If E-ZPass drivers are able to collect, sales of E-ZPass permits will increase. Revenge: It can be sweet.


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