Drastic Toll Hike Imminent
One of the highlights of living in New Jersey is the close proximity to New York City. Just a short drive or ride away is the world’s stage for breathtaking art museums, concert venues, comedy clubs, and profound history.
Unfortunately, in this harsh recession climate, the Port Authority will likely be upping tolls on the bridges and tunnels by astronomical amounts over the next few years.
If the proposal goes through, E-ZPass drivers will see a rush hour hike from $4 to $14 between now and 2014. Cash payers will also see a $10 hike, up to $17 (Star Ledger). For those who abhor E-ZPass and like to drive in the city after work, it will soon cost $17! Many New York City visitors will inevitably move to public transportation via New Jersey Transit trains and buses, which is a positive thing overall. The real stinger, however, is to the hundreds of thousands who depend on driving into the city to make their living and do business.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey held nine hearings Tuesday to allow commuters and the rest of the public to voice their concerns. At one of Tuesday morning’s public hearings, Joe Valentine, Vice President of Taxpayers of Staten Island, exclaimed: "We’re the ones who are suffering. We’re the ones who are dealing with the proposal…people are starving out here. They haven’t got jobs. They’re starving. This is not the moment to do this (NY Post)."
Albeit, the decision has already been made behind closed doors. Not to mention that more unemployed union workers showed up to encourage the toll hike than commuters against the proposal. What’s even stranger is that the governors appear to have removed themselves from the impending toll hike, noting their concerns, when Christie and Cuomo each have a hand in the $33 billion plan. The sharp hike in tolls will go to funding major construction projects.
In a time when the country is supposed to be cutting back, the Port Authority should take a look at its books to see what it can adjust, instead of more than doubling toll fares on the struggling workforce. Motives are clear. The Port Authority is purposely asking for much more than it expects to get a significant toll hike, even with an expected reduction negotiated by Christie and Cuomo.
A vote for the plan will take place August 19th, this Friday. Stay tuned.