JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The countdown was on Sunday night to the first morning rush since a new toll hike went into effect for bridges and tunnels run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
As CBS 2’s Drew Levinson reported, since 3 a.m. Sunday, it has cost more to take the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, as well as all three bridges in and out of Staten Island.
“It’s not fair,” a motorist said. “There’s just so much a driver can afford.”
The cash cost during peak hours to cross the Hudson River is now $13, up from $12. E-ZPass drivers now pay $10.25, an increase of 75 cents. Eighteen-wheelers now shell out $75.
“This is too high for us,” another motorist said. “Every day, it is going up.”
The Port Authority said it needs the money to keep up with costs, and not everyone argued with that point.
“It doesn’t bother me,” said commuter Anthony Sneed. “I mean, as you saw with Sandy, you know everything – the tunnels got flooded, and you’ve got to maintain the tunnels. You’ve got to take care of things. I mean, $1, I don’t think it is a big deal.”
One dollar might not sound like much, but it adds up. If you are a commuter and pay cash, and drive through tunnels or over bridges five days a week, it could cost you up to $260 per year.
Livery cab driver Uddin Dslim crosses the river up to four times a day. He finds the fare unfair.
“Too high, too much,” Dslim said. “It went up last year, and now it is going up too.”
Caitlin Kilgallen is not a commuter, but takes her kids to visit grandma, and she does not pay cash.
“I guess I have the E-ZPass, so it’s linked to my husband’s credit card, so it’s out of sight, out of mind in a way, but yeah, it went up a dollar, didn’t it?” she said. “That’s a lot.”
The tolls will continue to take their toll on drivers.
The Port Authority plans more hikes. By 2015, the cost to cross will be $15 for cars, and for big rigs as much $105.
The AAA has filed a lawsuit against the Port Authority in U.S. District Court in an effort to roll back the hikes. The agency claimed that its spending on projects that are not transportation-related, such as building on the World Trade Center site.
The AAA also said the toll hikes were enacted in a rapid process with little opportunity for public input.
“It was without precedent that the Port Authority passed five toll increases in one fell swoop, and via a process that was rushed with public hearings all in one day,” AAA New York manager Robert Sinclair told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
But the Port Authority says it needed the money after beefing up security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as well as maintaining the crossings and the PATH system.
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