Why the Port Authority Wants $1 Billion in Toll and Fare Hikes

For decades, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been one of the region’s key economic drivers, pulling in ever-increasing revenues from its airports, cargo ports and bridge and tunnel tollbooths and pumping that money back into the economy in massive job-creating infrastructure projects.

Now it’s the Port Authority that’s overextended and strapped for revenue, as its unprecedented request for a $1 billion-a-year toll and fare hike shows. The plan would raise bridge and tunnel tolls, which were just increased from $6 to $8 three years ago, to $12 next month and to $14 in 2014, and would hike PATH fares next month from $1.75 to $2.75.

While the proposal has been in the works for months, the Port Authority announced its plan through a press release issued on Friday afternoon — the favorite time to release bad news so that it gets the least attention. It immediately put the toll and fare hikes on a fast track, with nine public hearings to be held in a single day on August 16 and the final vote at the Port Authority board meeting scheduled for August 19.

That would be just over three weeks before the scheduled unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that brought down the Port Authority’s Twin Towers. The escalating $11 billion cost of the World Trade Center site redevelopment is one of the main reasons for the proposed toll and fare hike, and the Port Authority is already warning that failure to approve the toll hikes could jeopardize completion of the project.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo both have the power to veto the proposed toll hikes, and they signaled their intention to take a hard line with a joint press release: “While we understand the Port Authority leadership’s concerns about a potential downgrade to its bond rating if toll increases are not instituted, our primary concern with this proposal is its impact on our respective states’ residents and commercial users of the crossings… As families must carefully and effectively manage their finances at this difficult time, so must government.”

Read the rest of NJ Spotlight’s analysis of the proposed toll increase here. Then tell us what you think of the Port Authority’s toll increase plan and how it will affect you.

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  1. We’ve spent $790 billion on the Iraq war so far. Too bad we can’t use some of that. We could build hundreds of new World Trade Centers.

  2. The tolls are already WAY too high. They not only should not be increased, they should be eliminated! To not even be able to enter a city without first paying $8 is OUTRAGEOUS, much less $12 or $14 — and we all know there isn’t anything cheap going on once you enter! There is no other city in the country that you can’t enter for free, and just because New York is on an island should not mean you have to pay to enter.

    And they certainly should not need to fleece we little people — look at that that real estate — aren’t any of the big corporations paying any business taxes?! As compared to other cities, New York should have so much business tax coming in it wouldn’t even know how to spend all the money! But instead, they fleece we little people.

  3. The escalating $11 billion cost of the World Trade Center site redevelopment is one of the main reasons for the proposed toll and fare hike, and the Port Authority is already warning that failure to approve the toll hikes could jeopardize completion of the project.

    Does anyone know if this refers specifically to rebuilding the train station at WTC? Or are we all financing the new office buildings too? just wondering.

  4. Given the number of people who drive into the city by themselves, I would argue that the tolls are clearly too low.

  5. Hey me1004 you should realize that no matter what it is always going to cost money to drive over major crossings being that it does cost money to maintain bridges and tunnels. The issue here is not that we should not have to pay it is instead that the cost may be too high. Your statement about not having to pay to go into other cities could be correct depending on where the city is located. Drive across the two bridges into Philadelphia from New Jersey, it costs 8 dollars just like in NY. You have to pay tolls or else the bridge would not be there for you to cross.

  6. “… cost money to maintain bridges and tunnels. ”

    There’s one born every minute! If the tolls only paid for the construction and upkeep of the bridge or tunnel they’d be $2.

  7. Kay,

    That includes the buildings – we pay for ’em, just like we paid for the originals in the early 70’s

  8. Everything will become more expensive in NYC. The toll hike on delivery trucks will be passed on to customers and my $6.50 lunch will become $8.50. That will finally get me to start bringing my lunch.

  9. Hmm, I like this idea. Ok, here’s my thought. I’d like to have a rooftop deck, but its going to take some serious construction. With all the money I wasted on stain samples and experts and consultants, I just dont have any more money to do it. So how about we raise the toll at exit 148 to, lets say .75 cents? That way I can have a roof top, and you can pay for it? Its not like I am ripping you off because my property taxes will increase, so more money will go to Bloomfield. Oh, and when the deck is complete, that toll will still be .75 cents, because Hey, Go F* yourself!

  10. Right of Center, I did not say anything about the price being reasonable I was only commenting on the fact that the to assume crossing major bridges and tunnels would be free is unrealistic.

  11. Jimmytown:

    Oh, and when the deck is complete, that toll will still be .75 cents, because Hey, Go F* yourself!

    LOL – my vote for “Featured Comment”

  12. Isnt’ government “raising revenue” what the good liberals of New Jersey want?

    That’s right, what we need is another tax on working people, as opposed to corporations or the rich.

  13. Thanks Mayor Carl. How does that work exactly, if you know? Public financing of private office space? Does a portion of the rent go back to NYC? to the PA? (to me??) ~>:| Or is it like public financing of a baseball stadium – an implied benefit to the community (but usually with a tax abatement attached)?

    I think I need to go buy my own island and the heck with all this! I can grow as many trees as I want, put up a few solar panels, and if I have electricity one day and none the next because it’s raining, then it’s on me! And I can paint my hut any color of the rainbow!

  14. I agree Carl…… That is MY featured comment of the day! Just like the NYS Thruway tolls were supposed to be used to pay for construction and then be done away with….. NYS have us the finger as well!

  15. Jimmytown you aren’t going far enough. You should have peope paying to enter your home, enter the deck and then exit fees for the deck and home.

  16. “How does that work exactly, if you know? Public financing of private office space?”

    It doesn’t.

  17. “…as opposed to corporations or the rich.”

    Right. The same ones we’re counting on to lease our government built tower we’re opening during a depression.

  18. “That’s right, what we need is another tax on working people, as opposed to corporations or the rich.”

    ‘The rich’, the top 20% of filers already pay 70% of the federal taxes?
    Why should they have to pay more? Why should they have to pay for someone elses free ride? It’s a disgrace that someone is expected to carry someones water because they are a success.

    How about getting a little out of the 50% of people that pay nothing in federal taxes.

    Tax Payers -v- Tax Users (and the tax payer population is shrinking everyday)

    I’m still waiting for Obamas buddy and appointee to his President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board Jeff Imelt , and his company GE to pay a nickel of tax. Odd that he gets a free ride while closing operations in US and moving them overseas.

  19. How about getting a little out of the 50% of people that pay nothing in federal taxes.

    What’s hilarious about that thinking is that the reason that 50% pay no federal income taxes is because they don’t make enough money! Real wages have gone down in the last 30 years, yet the top 10% in this country have only gotten richer. The right wing likes to talk about the left’s “class warfare,” but as Warren Buffet says, “but it’s … the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

  20. Kay –

    Your analogy of a baseball stadium is pretty close, however no abatement is needed because the PANYNJ is tax-exempt (But I believe the privately-leased space generated some PILOTs for NYC).

    The PANYNJ has its fingers in a lot of pies – for example – they helped fund the Essex County Resource Recovery Center (that’s where your trash goes to be incinerated to generate electricity).

    As generally seems to be the nature with such things (whether Governmental Bodies, Quasi-Governmental Bodies, Public Agencies, Quasi-Public Agencies, Publicly-Held Corporations, Privately-Held Companies or Individuals) the richer, bigger and more powerful they become, the more they want to charge, grow and dominate others.

  21. Fed announcement moments ago….

    They expect little if any growth until June 2013…

    Things will get worst…..

    Any moment now the White House will try to discredit them.

  22. So… I am paying to construct a building for some entity, who is going to rent it out and profit from it? OK, NYC gets a PILOT. What does NJ get?

    Someone just told me that the Washington DC metro line is being expanded, and I am paying for that too. (Next time I am there, I plan to ask for free passage, since I am paying for the expansion. I’ll let you know how that goes, if the jail has wi-fi.) Well – in some ways I can stomach this easier, since it is for the public.

    A 100-story office building is not for the public, it’s for private enterprise! I would agree to pay for the train station though. (sigh) I guess I never thought about this stuff before.

    Am I also paying for Panasonic to build a new office in Newark?

    Jimmy, I like your idea. I need a new roof for my garage so I am going to start charging people to drive up my street. That includes the UPS man and the ice-cream truck. So what if the kids next door now have to absorb the $.25 increase on popsicles!

    argh! Summer Ale is calling me….

  23. ps. if someone will subsidize my purchase of a Can-Am I would happily drive that to work instead, assuming that the toll will be $4 since it has only 3 wheels. Hey! that would encourage more people to buy Can-Ams, then they would hire more workers to keep up with the demand! Stimulus at work!

    Can I get a small business loan to finance my Can-Am? How about if I tie a cooler onto the back, and sell ice cream sandwiches from it?

  24. well, obviously, the answer is to “work from home” when it rains, or snows, or hails, or drops below 50 degrees…

    WOW that T-rex is Nyyyce! like the exhaust!

    But now that I look at these again, it is apparent that I will need some sort of signal flag installed on top of it. Heck, Jersey drivers don’t see me now, in my suv with daytime nanny lights, how on earth will they see me in a little trike! That’s it – I need to be subsidized to stay home entirely. That way I will do my part to minimize CO2 emissions.

  25. In general, I have no problem with raising the tolls; driving is the least efficient way of getting around. In Europe, many cities penalize drivers: https://tinyurl.com/43otsf6
    The bigger problem is that these tolls don’t go where they logically belong, enhancing alternative public transportation methods. Today’s a great example, one derailed train virtually paralyzed train traffic between NY and NJ.

  26. POSTED BY herbeverschmel | AUGUST 09, 2011 @ 12:23 PM
    This president leads the class warfare charge every time he opens his bumbling mouth.

    It’s a bit odd, I know, herb, since the president has so many rich Wall Street donors.

    But Wall Street has a lot to be thankful for,
    considering that the Dow was at around 8,000 when Obama started, and now, it’s closer to 11,000.

    Help me out on the math here, ROC, is that a 10% increase per annum?

  27. I 100% agree with an earlier post. It takes 2 hours sometimes to get from midtown to east rutherford 6 miles away because of the amount of people that clog the 3 lanes approaching 495 and the lincoln tunnel. Tolls are too low.

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