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Traffic Down But Revenues Soar After Toll Hike At NY-NJ Port Authority Crossings

Monday, April 23, 2012

WNYC

Six months after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey raised prices at its six bridges and tunnels, the numbers are in: about a half million fewer drivers per month are using them. That's a 5 percent decrease overall.

The lower numbers, however, will not be a problem for the authority's bottom line. Toll revenues are up 31 percent since the hikes kicked in this past September. Between October 2011 and March 2012, the tolls took in a whopping $602.7 million, compared to $459 million raised between October 2010 and March 2011.

The drop in vehicle usage is to be expected, especially given that four months after prices went up at the crossings, tolls jumped by 50 percent on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. That's a double toll hike whammy on Jersey drivers making a typical trip to Manhattan or Staten Island.

Traffic has fluctuated in the past six months but has remained consistently down. In the 16 months before the toll hikes, the number of vehicles using authority crossings ranged from 10 million to 11 million — excluding three months of extreme weather during late 2010 and early 2011. Then came September, when the authority raised peak-time E-ZPass tolls to $9.50 from $8.  (After scheduled increases through 2015, that toll will be $12.50.) Since then, usage of the crossings has ranged from 9 to 10 million vehicles per month.

The toll hikes remain contentious. A February audit of the authority, conducted as a condition of support for the toll hikes by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, found a $4 billion cost over-run at the World Trade Center and an average salary for authority employees of $143,000 per year. Both governors used the audit as an occasion to blast the authority for wasteful spending.

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg held a congressional hearing on Wednesday to grill Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, about the fairness of the hikes. The hearing devolved into political theater as Baroni, a Christie appointee, told Lautenberg he was unfit to investigate the impact of the toll hikes because the senator had, for five years, used the bridges and tunnels for free, a perk of his former position as a  Port Authority commissioner.

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Comments [9]

Don Johnson

The end is coming for NYC, the MTA, and all the stupid tolls.

Jun. 04 2012 07:00 PM
Lisa from West New York, NJ

I'm commute to NYC daily from northern Hudson County, by bus. After the toll increase buses were jam packed, and my gut feeling was that this was because former drivers were now bus riders. The situation was almost intolerable with hundreds of people in line at the P.A. waiting for buses at the end of the work day, and long waits for buses with seats going into the city in the morning. The situation improved after a few weeks. Was NJTA taken completely unaware by the sudden increase in bus commuters? What increase did they expect or budget for? I'd be interested to know how many more passengers have been added overall since the toll increase.

Apr. 23 2012 11:36 AM
Cato from Manhattan

Has anyone looked at the effect on the larger NYC economy? 5% fewer people coming to NYC means 5% fewer people coming to NYC and, presumably spending money. Of course, it's the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, so maybe that means 5% fewer people leaving NJ and spending money out of state. So, does this represent an advantage to NJ?

Apr. 23 2012 11:22 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Bloomberg and Cuomo have lost all connection to reality.

They must think that everyone is a millionaire and can afford to pay tolls every step of the way.

Sales tax on clothing in NYC is what is causing people to shop in New Jersey where there is no tax on clothing.

If they really want to cut down on traffic, eliminate taxis and gypsy cabs and have more buses.

Apr. 23 2012 11:07 AM
Mark

I wouldn't exactly call "light rails" rapid transit since it has to stop at every street it crosses, at least a bus hits a green light once in a while. Ever take the one in JC? Takes forever to go anywhere. On top of that it goes between the worst neighborhood in JC and Newport Mall which means anywhere on that section will be packed with loud, obnoxious teenagers who will make the already slow and tedious ride into a special kind of torture. Even a city bus is a step up from light rails. More mass transit is great but please no light rails.

Apr. 23 2012 10:37 AM
Tim from Philadelphia

I think the toll hikes are incredibly cost prohibitive. I drive to Long Island from Philadelphia twice per month to visit my elderly father in a home. I cross two bridges--the Outerbridge Crossing and the Verrazano--for a roundtip fare of $25. I really think this is highway robbery. They really should impose a toll free Sunday.

Apr. 23 2012 10:26 AM
elka from NJ

This is good news. Driving into Mahnattan is a terrible idea, unless you absolutely must. There aren't enough good options yet but there are options to use public transit. I sit on the bus each morning for work and I look down at so many cars with only the driver. I could never figure out why anyone would want to do this. They must love to sit in traffic. I think we need an enormous push for better transport to the city. It would be good if one of the tunnels was completely dedicated to light rail or monorail which would cross into the northern part of NJ. Those of us who live just across the river have it the worst, except for Hoboken and JC. Much of Bergen county is without any rapid transit, just slow busses down river road.

Apr. 23 2012 10:07 AM
Xtina from E. Village

Port Authority, the most corrupt organization there is. Cuomo and Christie can pretend to villify all they want, they won't do a thing.

Apr. 23 2012 10:04 AM
MaryEllen from Northern NJ

Because of the cost of tolls I almost never go into the City any more and I used to go in several times a month. When I do go I now only take public transportation. I think that the Port Authority has really strangled New York City as I know many people like myself who rarely are willing to pay the cost to come into NYC from New Jersey and even are unwilling to work there because while wages may look higher, the commute, costs, and lack of free time mean that it actually costs you money to work there. Not for me thanks.

Apr. 23 2012 09:25 AM

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