MTA Mulls Steep Hike for Cash Tolls, Out-of-State Drivers

Tolls for out-of-state drivers on MTA bridges and tunnels could go up to $7 under a new proposal from the authority—but E-ZPass users from New York State would keep paying the current $4.57 for major East River crossings.

The idea is one of two options the MTA’s considering for its bridges and tunnels. The other is more traditional: increase tolls across the board, for cash and E-ZPass, in-state and out-of-state, by about 10 percent.

The new idea, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, is meant to encourage people to use E-ZPass, cutting down on congestion at toll plazas and the pollution that comes with it.

The proposal means that E-ZPass users from elsewhere on the Atlantic seaboard who occasionally pass through New York would end up paying 53 percent more. They currently qualify for the $4.57 E-ZPass rate.

AAA New Jersey opposes any sort of variable tolling, according to spokesman Stephen Rajczyk.

“It shouldn’t matter if you are an out-of-state driver or an E-Z Pass driver,” he said. “You could say the people who use it all the time maybe should be paying more for it because they are using it all the time.”

The MTA says that you don’t have to be a resident of New York State to get a New York State E-ZPass—you simply have to apply for a tag from the New York State E-ZPass Service Center. And in fact, drivers who use tags from the Port Authority would qualify for the discount, according to MTA Bridges and Tunnels spokeswoman Joyce Mulvaney.

About 75 percent of drivers who use MTA’s bridges and tunnels use E-ZPass; 70 percent use New York State tags.

The current cash toll is $5.50 for major crossings.

Public hearings begin September 13. Here's the MTA's schedule (PDF). Here's more information on the proposal.