Port Authority Wants Toll Hikes, Fare Increases

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is seeking steep toll and fare increases starting in September.

The authority wants to raise tolls at its crossings — which include the George Washington Bridge and the Hudson River Tunnels — from $6 to $10 during off-peak travel, and $8 to $12 during peak travel hours, for E-Z Pass users. Cash payments would cost an extra $3.

According to the Port Authority's plan, these fares would rise again, by another $2, in 2014.

PATH riders will also be hit hard, with base fares rising from $1.75 to $2.75, making the base fare higher than the base fare for the New York City subway.

The Authority says it needs the money to make up for lost revenue due to the recession and the cost of upgrading infrastructure and rebuilding — and securing —  the World Trade Center site.

Both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — who jointly control the agency — said they 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 taxpayer, or in this case, the toll payer," they said, in a joint statement on Friday.

Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, suggested the Port Authority scale back its proposal, in a statement issued following the authority's announcement. She also charged that both Christie and Cuomo "want to use the Port Authority as a piggy bank," by diverting some of its funds to pay for other transportation projects in their states.

The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, the New York Building Congress, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the Partnership for New York City all released statements supporting the Port Authority's proposal, and its plans to invest in and upgrade its infrastructure.

AAA New York was surprised by the proposal. Spokesman Robert Sinclair, Jr. called it outrageous.

"Motorists are already unfairly burdened, by taxes, fees, surcharges, tolls...and a lot of that money goes to projects unrelated to motorists," Sinclair, Jr. said.

Notice of the Port Authority's intention to raise tolls and fares came late on Friday afternoon, by press release.

The agency's board may approve the increases as soon as its next meeting, on August 19. Nine public hearings have been scheduled in New York and New Jersey prior to that date, to seek comment.