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PA seek 50% bridge and tunnel hikes – QNS.com

PA seek 50% bridge and tunnel hikes

With the economy down, tolls may be going up.
The Port Authority announced plans on Friday, August 5 to significantly raise tolls on their six crossings and PATH Train.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a joint statement with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, expressed concerns over the hike.
“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 cost to the taxpayer, or in this case, toll payer,” the governors said in the statement. “As families must carefully and effectively manage their finances at this difficult time, so must government.”
Tolls were last raised in 2008 from $6 to $8.
Tolls will increase 50 percent from $8 to $12 for E-ZPass users during peak hours (Weekdays 6-10 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.) and from $6 to $10 during off-peak times. For drivers that do not have an E-ZPass, the tolls will increase from $8 to $15. The PATH fare will increase from $1.75 per trip to $2.75.
These hikes will take effect this year if approved, with additional hikes coming in 2014. In three years, the tolls will rise to $14 for E-ZPass users and $17 for others.
Over 108 million vehicles used PA crossings (the George Washington, Goethals and Bayonne bridges, the Outerbridge Crossing and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels) in 2009, while the PATH Train had 73.9 million passengers last year.
The plan comes on the heels of the MTA announcing a fare hike in both 2013 and 2015 and the stock market dipping below 11,000 for the first time since November.
“It’s disgraceful. How can they expect us to pay such high prices? The economy is terrible. Prices on everything are going up,” said Kathleen Glemelle of Bayside.
“The toll money is used for the city. So I think as long as they use the money for something positive I’m okay with the increase,” said Kevin Huynh of Whitestone.
The increased revenue from the hikes will go towards the cost of the World Trade Center rebuilding and the overhaul of the agencies facilities, according to the PA. The toll and fare increase in 2011 is expected to result in approximately $720 million of additional annual revenue, and the increases in 2014 are expected to result in $290 million of additional annual revenue.
A vote by the PA’s Board of Commissioners is planned for August 19. First, nine public hearings will be held on August 16 in New York and New Jersey, including one at JFK Airport in building 14’s second floor conference room. There will also be an online hearing at 2 p.m. at www.panynj.gov.
While the governors – who have final say – said they will review the PA’s proposal, all indications are that they will not approve a 50 percent hike, though some increase is still expected. – Additional reporting by Erica Curtiss

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