Christie And Cuomo Direct Port Authority To Scale Back Toll Hikes

Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York sent a joint letter to Port Authority Chairman David Samson and Vice Chairman Stanley Grayson today directing that the toll and fare increases the authority proposed two weeks ago be scaled back and that a comprehensive audit of the capital plan and operations take place.

A copy of the governors’ letter can be found here.

Christie and Cuomo said that their commissioners were able to identify $5 billion in savings within the capital plan over the last two weeks. 

Imagine what they could have found if they weren’t in a hurry.

Tolls for cars on the Hudson River crossings will increase by $1.50 in September and then $.75 in December in each year from 2012-2015.  The Port Authority’s proposal would have raised these tolls by $4.00 in September. Overall tolls on cars will increase by $4.50 over the next five years rather than the $6.00 PANYNJ proposed over four years.

Drivers paying cash rather than using EZ Pass will pay a $2.00 penalty.

Tolls on trucks using EZ Pass will increase by $2.00 per axle in September, and then an additional $2.00 per year per axle starting in December, 2012-2015.

Trucks paying cash will pay the same increases, plus $3.00 per axle.

Fares on the PATH trains will increase $.25 per year for the next four years.

The governors said that these increases would stop the fiscal crisis at Port Authority and allow for the completion of the World Trade Center and hundreds of other projects that “will ensure the safety and economic viability of a transportation system that millions of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans rely on.”

This toll deal, since the Port Authority’s initial announcement through today’s joint letter by the governors is just too cute for my liking.

Why institute five years worth of toll increases before the comprehensive audit is completed?  What happens if the audit reveals another $5 billion in savings?  Will tolls be reduced by another $2.50 like the governors were able to reduce the proposed increases with $5 billion in savings discovered in two weeks?  Who will conduct the audit?  Is prevailing wage on the table for reform? Will the audit be made public?  How long will the audit take to complete?

If there is a real fiscal crisis at PANYNJ with a possibility of defaulting on bonds, a more reasonable alternative would have been to grant temporary toll and fare increases, for six months to a year, until the audit could be completed, studied and money saving reforms implemented.

The fact that this fiasco happened during two weeks in August while so many people are vacationing before the back to school rush increases my cynicism and disappointment.  It makes me fear what might be in store for us during the last two weeks of December and during the lame duck session of the legislature.

Posted: August 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, Port Authority | Tags: , , | 6 Comments »

6 Comments on “Christie And Cuomo Direct Port Authority To Scale Back Toll Hikes”

  1. NJ2SI said at 1:53 am on August 19th, 2011:

    A toll increase IS a tax increase. ANY toll increase IS a tax increase. If Christie breaks his promise not to raise taxes by raising these tolls, then I will vote for whomever is running against him, no matter how liberal that SOB might be. (Punish RHINOs!)

  2. TheDigger said at 10:13 am on August 19th, 2011:

    They should first go after the way the Port Authority runs its operations, including the huge overtime that also impacts pensions (not sure if they already did that, but if not, cut out overtime being used to calculate their publicly funded pension).

    Unfortunately, I suspect this was a “done deal” before the Port Authority even announced their original toll tax hike.

    After being involved in politics for a long time, I guess I’m a cynic.

    However, while I agree a toll hike is similar to a tax hike under a different name, the fact is toll roads, no matter where, are “user fees”. If you don’t use them, you don’t pay.

  3. Voice of Reason said at 12:13 pm on August 19th, 2011:

    Listened to 101.5 this morning and Jim Garheart mentioned that many police are making over $200K annually at the Port Auth. There are executives making over $250k and some over 300k. The overtime payments are excessive. sometimes doubling the annual incomes of workers and the MOST outragous thing is that pensions are calculated on 1 year and the final year of work and overtime is included. Cmon Beck, Rible,Pallone, Angelini, Kean, Oscanlon and the rest of you. Can you guys please stop the abuse we taxpayers are enduring? The port authority is abusing us and destryoing us financially just like Brookdale and Rutgers has done in past. Will someone step up and help us? Does anyone think a $125,ooo a year pension with great benefits for LIFE is normal here ? This is corruption.

  4. A toll is a tax said at 8:54 am on August 20th, 2011:

    I am a Republican. I also own a small business. I often pay these tolls that Governor Christie has decided to increase. Suffice it to say, the governor has it made it so much more expensive for me to do business in this state. Sending a van from Monmouth County into Brooklyn will now cost a business owner over $30 in tolls thanks to these increases. I may have to lay-off an employee or two because of these toll increases.

    MTA board approves toll hikes, Verrazano cash toll rises to $13

    Governor, I don’t know if you read this blog or not. If you do, please know that you lost a supporter today. I will be voting for anyone that runs against you. I will be voting for the opponents of anyone that you campaign for. If I have to lay-off someone, I will tell him that your higher tolls played a big part in his losing a job.

  5. A toll increase is a tax increase said at 9:50 am on August 20th, 2011:

    In 2015, truckers be paying $90 to cross the George Washington bridge. Thanks for the tax increase, Chris Christie.

    Truckers insulted by 125 percent tax increase in NY-NJ

  6. opps said at 9:50 am on August 20th, 2011:

    will be paying … typo