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Commuters Facing Higher Tolls On Port Authority Bridges, Tunnels

(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Commuters heading to into New York City from New Jersey are paying more for their daily commute after the next phase of Port Authority toll hikes kicked in over the weekend.

WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane On The Story


The toll increase went into effect at Port Authority bridges and tunnels early Sunday morning.

Cash tolls on the George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing increased from $12 to $13 during peak hours.

E-ZPass drivers now pay $10.25 during peak hours, up 75 cents a ride. The price for E-ZPass during off-peak hours increased to $8.25.

Tolls were last raised by the Port Authority in September 2011.

Auto mechanic Lenny King said his job requires him to make several round-trip rides in and out of the city every day for parts but is concerned that could now be too costly because of the new toll prices.

“I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to go to Jersey,” King told CBS 2′s Weijia Jiang. “It’s hard because everybody has a family, everybody has bills.”

King said he may ditch his car sometimes to try to save on the tolls.

“Sometimes it’s cheaper just to park your vehicle and walk,” he told Jiang.

Another commuter said the Port Authority should look into cost-cutting measures rather than relying on toll hikes alone.

“We built these amazing tunnels that made us the engine that we are, but they have to lay off the people. They have to lay off the people,” the driver said.

Commuters all seemed in agreement that the new rates will put a pinch on their pocketbooks.

“Any little bit is an impact,” commuter Sal Torino told CBS 2′s Jiang.

Limousine driver Jose Aponte crosses the Holland Tunnel up to five times a day and said the toll hike will take a toll on his budget.

“It’s a disgrace,” he said. “Not even two years ago they raised it up, now again, why?”

The Port Authority has said the spike is necessary to keep up with costs.

In September, an independent audit said the toll hikes were necessary to maintain the Port Authority’s transportation infrastructure, including maintenance on bridges, roads and tunnels, and to fund capital projects.

But AAA has claimed the cash is going toward unrelated real estate projects like the World Trade Center. AAA filed a lawsuit last year calling the increases “unprecedented and unlawful.”

“They’re involved in real estate projects, all sorts of projects that have nothing to do with their core mission of transportation and they’re spending a lot of money to do it, going into debt to do it on the backs of motorists,” said Robert Sinclair with AAA New York.

The Port Authority has said it won’t comment on pending litigation.

If the lawsuit is successful, it would block additional toll hikes. Otherwise, motorists can expect to pay more every year until 2015.

The Port Authority’s scheduled hikes will not only impact drivers. Fares on the PATH train are also set to increase every year until 2015.

The next toll increase is set for Dec. 1, 2013. For more information, click here.

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