The Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved the agency’s first toll and fare increase in seven years to help pay for escalating security costs and nearly $30 billion in capital investments to promote mass transit, maintain its existing facilities in a state of good repair and ease congestion.
The approval followed extensive community outreach that included seven public hearings in New York and New Jersey, including the agency’s first online hearing and dozens of written and e-mail comments. As a result of comments received, and to further the agency’s commitment to mass transit, the Board approved several changes to the original proposal announced last November 15. They are:
Cash fares on PATH will increase from $1.50 to $1.75, a 25-cent reduction from the original proposal. Daily PATH commuters who use the 10-, 20- or 40-ride fare card will see an increase from $1.20 to $1.30 per ride, less than half of the original increase proposed. PATH also is developing an unlimited monthly ride fare similar to what’s available on MTA’s public transit system.
The discount toll for preregistered carpools will rise from $1 to $2, $1 less than the original proposal.
The increase in bridge and tunnel tolls and PATH fares will allow the agency to proceed with an ambitious $29.5 billion, 10-year Capital Plan, which includes $3 billion for a new Hudson River passenger rail tunnel; $3.3 billion to overhaul and modernize the PATH system; $8.4 billion to rebuild the World Trade Center site; $4 billion to keep bridges and tunnels in a state of good repair; and $3.1 billion to expand, modernize and enhance security at JFK and LaGuardia airports.
The plan also will provide the necessary resources to fund $650 million in annual security costs. Security expenses in 2008 will bring the Port Authority’s security spending since 9/11 to more than $3.7 billion.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “We are embarking on a course for the Port Authority that will return us to our roots – as builders of transportation facilities that meet the needs of the millions of people who live and work in and visit the region while making an historic commitment to the future of mass transit. We’ve set the bar high, but with today’s action we believe we can build a transportation network that will encourage mass transit use, reduce congestion and provide the safe and secure environment our customers expect.”
Port Authority Executive Director Anthony E. Shorris said, “We’ve spent two months listening to the region’s travelers, and they’ve told us that they want us to deliver on our commitment to a secure, sustainable transportation system to support the region’s growing economy. That’s why we’ll use this toll increase to put more than $1 billion toward new security projects and to build more than $6 billion worth of affordable mass transit options. These are the soundest possible investments in the region’s future.”
In addition to the PATH fare changes, the following adjustments in the Port Authority’s toll and fare structure will take effect on March 2, 2008. Tolls for drivers using E-ZPass on the Port Authority’s two tunnels and four bistate bridges would increase from $4 to $6 for off-peak travel and from $5 to $8 in peak hours, providing a greater incentive for off-peak travel, while cash tolls would increase from $6 to $8. The toll increase for trucks and buses would vary, depending on the number of axles and payment method. This toll adjustment plan includes future adjustments based on increases to the Regional Consumer Price Index. In addition, tunnel and bridge customers who use qualifying low-emission vehicles will be eligible to register that vehicle for the Port Authority GreenPass Plan which will offer a $4 E-ZPass off-peak toll rate – no increase above the current off-peak rate.
(YWN / PA NYNJ)
(Photo from WCBSTV)