NEW YORK — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Board of Commissioners approved a plan to raise tolls and fares beginning next month. The fare hikes are smaller than the Port Authority originally proposed.
Tolls on cars using E-ZPass will increase $1.50 in September and then 75 cents in December each year from 2012-2015 for a total increase of $4.50 over five years, down from the proposed $6 increase over four years. Cars paying with cash will have the same increase, but will be subject to an additional $2 penalty (rounded up to the nearest whole dollar).
Tolls on trucks using E-ZPass will pay an additional $2 per axle in September, and then an additional $2 per axle in December of each year from 2012 –2015. Tolls on trucks paying cash will have the same increase but will be subject to an additional $3 per axle cash penalty.
Fares on the PATH train will increase 25 cents per year for the next four years.
Under the direction of Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo, the Port Authority’s Capital Plan was reviewed in a line-by-line analysis and was reduced by $5 billion. This allowed a reduction in the proposed toll rates while still ensuring the agency’s finances would be stabilized.
The $25.1 billion immediate 10-year capital plan will generate more than 131,000 jobs, according to the Port Authority and includes safety, security and state-of-good-repair projects, as well as the completion of the World Trade Center, while and phasing in other less immediate projects over more than 10 years. Approximately 60 percent of the plan, $15 billion, will be invested in the next four years.
The immediate projects funded in the plan include:
- George Washington Bridge suspender ropes
- Lincoln Tunnel Helix rehabilitation
- Bayonne Bridge roadway raising
- New Goethals Bridge with both Port Authority and private investment
- PATH Car, signal, and station modernizations
- Airport runway and taxiway modernizations
- Security enhancements at all facilities
- Port infrastructure improvements to rail and roads in the port
New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel slammed the increases.
“The Port Authority still has not laid out a justification for increases even though some projects are worthy they still need to investigate other ways to pay for them. We should not be using Port Authority as pork barrel paying for development of office towers or so that New Jersey could avoid raising the gas tax to pay for highway improvements that have nothing to do with Port Authority,” Tittel said.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) was also critical of the fare hikes.
“Make no mistake, these toll hikes are a tax on commuters that will disproportionately hurt New Jerseyans,” Lautenberg said. “Every time the Governor attacks commuters, he is doing damage to New Jersey’s economy and making our state a less accessible and less desirable place to live and raise a family.”
Many local politicians have remained on the sidelines. While fare and toll hikes are unpopular with commuters, labor unions are in favor of the jobs that will be created through the Port Authority’s capital program.
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