Port Authority plans toll, fare hikes, $4 airport tax for taxis, app-based cars

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The Port Authority is once again considering raising tolls and fares, as well as adding a $4 tax on all airport pickups in taxi and app-based for-hire vehicles.

The proposal aims to raise $235 million pay for airport and other infrastructure improvements.

It includes:

--Increasing tolls by $1 at the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, Outerbridge Crossing, Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, from $15 to $16
--Increasing Air Train fee from $5 to $7.75
--E-ZPass peak discount to be reduced from $2.50 to $2.25, off-peak discount to be reduced from $4.50 to $4.25
--PATH base fare will remain $2.75, but multi-trip discount to be reduced
--Adding a $4 per ride "ground access fee" for airport pickups in taxis and app-based for-hire vehicles, as well as a $4 drop off tax only for Uber/Lyft.

The union representing Uber and Lyft drivers immediately slammed what they call an "unfair airport tax."

"The new fee is just the latest in a series of unfair taxes that tax the labor of app-based drivers at a higher rate than taxis, and it comes on the heels of a new state congestion tax of $2.75 per trip on app-based trips and $2.50 on taxi trips," the Independent Drivers Guild said in a statement. "The war on professional drivers needs to end."

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance also weighed in on the proposal.

"Drivers across this industry are in the worst crisis in generations, barely surviving, and an agency with mismanaged funds now wants to steal the food off their tables," NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said. "This fee -- on top of a devastating $2.50 congestion surcharge in Manhattan and after a 36% drop in revenue for yellow cab drivers -- appears manufactured at the state level to wipe out a sector that has kept the airports moving for decades. Drivers are in crisis, but the Port Authority underestimates our resolve. If they want a fight, they got one. Drivers: get ready to shut down the airports."

Board members will be briefed at the Port Authority monthly meeting on Thursday.

The fees will be presented at a series of public hearings before the board could vote on them, most likely at its monthly meeting in September.

The changes would take effect at varying times between this November and late 2020 and are subject to the Port Authority board's approval

"These recommended increases in tolls and fare are both needed and measured," Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. "We also sought to spread the increases across all our operations to avoid undue burdens. We are wholly committed to delivering improved facilities as we ask our customers to share in supporting the infrastructure investments the region so desperately needs and deserves."

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