NY-NJ Port Authority plans $4 toll hike next month

August 5, 2011 4:13:30 PM PDT
The Port Authority says it plans to raise the toll on its bridges and tunnels by $4 next month.

Tolls would be $12 during peak hours, and $10 during off peak for the George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Bayonne Bridge, Goethals Bridges and the Outerbridge Crossing. They are currently $8 for peak-hour E-Z Pass users and cash. There would be a $3 cash surcharge which would make the cash rate $15.

About 25 percent of Port Authority drivers use cash, and the agency wants to cut that down. Tolls would then go up again by $2 for E-ZPass users in 2014

A single ride on the PATH train would be $2.75, up from $1.75.

The proposal would go to the governors of New York and New Jersey, who are expected to find a way to partially cut the toll hikes. They released part of the following joint statment:

"We will review the proposal with that in mind but have obvious and significant concerns. The Port Authority is facing financial issues but so are families in the states of New York and New Jersey, and the answer cannot always be an indiscriminate and exorbitant increase in the cost to the taxpayer, or in this case, toll payer. As families must carefully and effectively manage their finances at this difficult time, so must government."

Officials have been discussing a much needed toll hike for at least a year.

However, the statement outlined why the agency no longer has access to certain transportation monies, causing officials to call for toll hikes steeper than originally expected.

Steep layoffs and construction delays, including at the World Trade Center, would result if the hike was not approved.

In addition to the PATH hike, the 30-day unlimited PATH pass would rise to $89. It is currently $54 a month.

The factors leading to the agency's financial position include:

  • An historic economic recession during which the agency's revenue declined $2.6 billion from projections made when the agency's original ten-year capital plan was sized. Example: 11 million less vehicles are crossing our bridges and tunnels it will take until 2020 to reach the levels we projected we would be at in 2011.
  • More than $11 billion in funding necessary to rebuild the WTC site.
  • $6 billion in increased security requirement costs since the September 11 attacks, nearly tripling security expenditures from pre-9/11 annual budgets (180% increase).
  • The need for the largest overhaul in agency facilities in its 90-year history. The new 10-year capital plan would deliver significant economic benefits to the region including the generation of 167,000 jobs, $38.4 billion in sales, and $9.7 billion in wages within the 17-county New York-New Jersey Port District.

    The agency's proposed toll structure, which would be adjusted in September 2011 and in 2014, focuses the greatest increase on cash users and trucks that cause the most traffic congestion and wear and tear. In addition, the agency proposes raising the PATH fare in September 2011, while fully preserving PATH's deep discount for multi-trip users. Projects contingent on the proposed toll/fare plan include:

  • The first replacement of all 592 suspender ropes at the 80-year old George Washington Bridge, the world's busiest crossing, joining other suspension bridges like the Golden Gate and RFK, which have already replaced theirs. ($1 billion)
  • The replacement of the Lincoln Tunnel Helix. It will require major lane closures and load restrictions if not replaced. ($1.5 billion)
  • The raising of the Bayonne Bridge, which will solve the current clearance problem, preventing the post-PANAMAX ships from accessing key ports. ($1 billion)
  • A new bus garage connected to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which will serve as a traffic reliever to the Lincoln Tunnel and midtown Manhattan streets, saving two-thirds of the empty bus trips that must make two extra trips through the Tunnel each day. ($800 million)
  • Significant security investments at the region's airports, including the installation of security barriers. ($360 million)

    The Port Authority also plans to direct 100 percent of the revenue from the proposed PATH fare increase back into the PATH system to complete projects that will replace 340 PATH cars, replace the 100-year-old signal system and duct bank network, upgrade PATH security with tunnel hardening and flood mitigation measures, and rehabilitate the system's aging stations, including new 10-car platforms.

    The plan has to be approved at an Aug. 19 board meeting. It is subject to veto by either state's governor.