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Port Authority Board Approves Proposed Toll and Fare Hikes

By DNAinfo Staff on August 19, 2011 8:09am  | Updated on August 19, 2011 8:28am

Tolls would increase by $1.50 in September for EZ-Pass users on the George Washington Bridge, if the new plan is approved.
Tolls would increase by $1.50 in September for EZ-Pass users on the George Washington Bridge, if the new plan is approved.
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MANHATTAN — Following public outcry from disgruntled commuters, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has reached an agreement with the states' respective governors on a revised set of toll and fare hikes for its Hudson River crossings.

Under the new plan, which was approved by the PA's Board of Commissioners Friday morning, drivers using EZ-pass will pay an additional $1.50 to enter the city at peak times beginning in September, while drivers using cash will pay an additional $3, according to a joint statement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

The toll for both types of drivers would increase another 75 cents in December of each year from 2012 to 2015, with PATH train riders seeing a fare increase of 25 cents a year for four years.

"This is a responsible alternative that balances the infrastructure needs of the region with toll and fare payers' economic realities," the governors said in the statement, which declared that "an increase cannot be avoided."

Under the previous proposal, EZ-pass tolls were set to increase by $4 in September and by $6 over four years, the statement noted.

In exchange for their approval of the modified rate hikes, the governors said they would require the authority to conduct a full audit of its capital plan and management practices.

The governors said that their commissioners had already Identified $5 billion in savings within the capital plan, and warned that "reports of cost overruns, excessive overtime, and exorbitant spending must stop immediately."

Presiding over a special meeting of the Authority's board Friday morning, Chairman David Sampson blamed the agency's financial woes on the economic downturn, increased security requirements and the need to rebuild the World Trade Center.

With the toll and fare increases, Sampson said the Authority would be able to continue the WTC project and complete necessary infrastructure projects, like the replacing suspension cables on the George Washington Bridge and rehabilitating the Lincoln Tunnel helix.

"None of these pro is small, nor are they inexpensive," the chairman said.