Reporting Marcia Kramer
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is relief for beleaguered New Jersey commuters.
Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo are riding to the rescue of people who use the PATH trains and the river crossings, including the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and the George Washington Bridge, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer first reported earlier Thursday.
Both Christie and Cuomo felt the agency’s proposed $4 toll hike during peak hours and $1 increase for the PATH train were unrealistic and too burdensome for commuters in these tough economic times. Commuters can look for a far gentler hike — a $1.50 toll hike and a 25-cent PATH fare increase.
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In a joint letter and revised proposal sent to Port Authority Chairman David Samson and Vice Chairman Stanley Grayson, both governors said the numbers proposed by the agency were “unacceptable.”
The statement said that Christie and Cuomo “did not want to see any toll increase,” but because of the Port Authority’s financial “crisis” and “the potential safety and economic risks to commuters and businesses,” an increase “cannot be avoided.”
Both Cuomo and Christie proposed the following revisions to the Port Authority’s proposal:
- Tolls on cars using E-ZPass will increase $1.50 in September 2011 and then 75 cents in December of each year from 2012-’15.
- Tolls on cars paying with cash will have the same increase but will be subject to an additional $2 penalty. (rounded up to the nearest whole dollar)
- Tolls on trucks using E-ZPass will pay an additional $2 per axle in September 2011, and then an additional $2 per axle in December of each year from 2012-’15.
- Tolls on trucks paying cash will have the same increase but will be subject to an additional $3 per axle cash penalty.
- Fares on the PATH train will increase 25 cents a year for four years.
The governors said that the revised proposals would balance the “infrastructure needs of the region with toll and fare payers’ economic realities.”
Ultimately, it means that the E-ZPass rate for the crossings and tunnels will jump from $8 to $9.50 and eventually to $12.50, given the 75 percent annual increase.
If you use cash, the $2 surcharge will bring your toll cost to $11.50 and eventually $14.50. The increase for PATH train riders will ultimately mean paying $2.75 four years from now.
A statement from Port Authority officials said they will move forward with the revisions presented by both governors.
“We support the proposal laid out today by the Governors and will move this proposal to the Board tomorrow,” the statement read.
“It’s only fair for us to let them know specifically, directly and let the public know specifically and directly how we choose to approach this issue,” Christie said.
Earlier Thursday, Christie blasted the Port Authority in the wake of a finding by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli that the Authority was spending millions of dollars on overtime, which is padding people’s pensions. The issue was also breached in the joint letter to the Port Authority.
“He said overtime was gushing out of the Port Authority. I mean, this is, again, an indictment of the management of the Port Authority and not by me but by the state comptroller in New York, so there’s a lot of work to do on how the Port Authority is being mismanaged,” Christie said.
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