How do New Jerseyans feel about the New Year's toll hike on the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway?
"I don't think the commuters really care how you want to characterize it," said Star-Ledger reporter Mike Frassinelli on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. "A lot more money is coming out of their pockets. You can call it a tax hike, you can call it a toll hike. They just know more money is coming out of their pockets and they're not really happy with it."
Wednesday's Brian Lehrer Show devoted the last segment of its show to talking about the impact upon drivers. (You can listen to the segment below.)
Callers were generally unsupportive of the hike -- like Joe in Madison, who said he worked for the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. He called the toll hike a tax on small businesses. "It makes it harder for us to do business, and to provide the arts to the community."
One topic on the segment: what Brian called "the political blame game:" NJ Governor Chris Christie is blaming the toll hikes on his predecessor, Jon Corzine -- a statement that is factually correct.
The toll increases were initially planned as a way to help fund the now-canceled trans-Hudson ARC tunnel. Earlier this year, the NJ Turnpike Authority voted to redirect that toll revenue to the state's transportation trust fund.
This week NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg -- an ARC supporter --blasted the governor for allowing the toll hike to go through. "It's shameful that New Jersey commuters are paying more without getting more in return," he said in a statement. "The governor was quick to cancel the badly needed tunnel, but flat-out refused to cancel the associated toll increase."
You can listen to the segment below.