Reporting Paul Murnane
NEW YORK (CBS New York) — The commute just got more expensive for most drivers.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday approved yet another toll hike. Some drivers will soon be paying as much as $13.
But what many motorists don’t realize is that they are already paying through the nose to subsidize mass transit, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reports
It’s the fifth toll hike in seven years and to paraphrase one of the New York gubernatorial candidates, drivers think the tolls are too damn high.
“It is terrible, absolutely terrible that we have to pay all this money,” Bronx resident Otis McCalla said.
“Things are already expensive,” Paul Nobel added.
“I think it’s unfair. We already pay a lot of money so for them to do that … it’s unfair for us,” commuter Will Pineda said.
If you take one of the MTA’s nine bridges and tunnels get ready to fork over more of your hard earned dough. It took the MTA board just minutes to approve a toll hike.
If you use E-ZPass you get a break — a 5-percent across the board hike, from $4.57 to $4.80 at the major crossings.
But if you are among the 1 in 4 who pay cash, take a deep breath. Tolls will go up $1 at most of the crossings, including the Henry Hudson, and by 50 cents at the Rockaway crossings.
“They’ve been ripping us off for years,” Staten Island resident Rick Rizzo said. “It’s insane. They should really figure out where this money’s going because to commute every day to Brooklyn, it’s just outrageous.”
The MTA wants drivers to use E-ZPass because it will lower their operating costs.
“I think we are in this way using pricing to encourage people to shift to the mode of payment that is most effective and most efficient,” MTA Chairman Jay Walder said.
But whether they realize it or not drivers are already subsidizing mass transit to the tune of over $1 billion a year.
Even before the new round of toll hikes the MTA was getting:
* $281 million from a car registration surcharge of $50 a car
* $791 million from a petroleum business tax. That’s a gas tax of more than a gallon paid by every driver in New York State.
* A 50-cent surcharge on every taxi ride
* A $16 driver license/learner’s permit surcharge
* A 5-percent surcharge on rental cars.
Robert Sinclair Jr. is with AAA New York.
“Drivers are being unfairly asked to subsidize mass transit. We already do it to a huge degree and it has to stop. Motorists do not have bottomless pockets to supplement mass transit,” Sinclair said.
The tolls will go into effect on Dec. 30 instead of Jan. 1. That way the MTA can avoid the costly overtime of having to change the signs on New Year’s Eve.