Lack of Public Involvement In Five-Stage Toll Increases Will Result In Surprised Drivers Digging Deeper To Pay More
TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg on Tuesday warned motorists of an unwelcome holiday surprise of steeper tolls to travel the bridges and tunnels between New York and New Jersey that were scheduled with scant public notification or input. Scheduled to take effect on the heavy travel day that completes the Thanksgiving weekend, EZ Pass tolls for the George Washington Bridge, the Holland Tunnel and the Lincoln Tunnel will jump to $11.00 for peak travel times and to $9.00 for off peak times starting Sunday, December 1st.
“The Port Authority was almost secretive when it fast-tracked a five-stage plan for the steepest toll hikes in its history so most motorists will be hit with an unwelcome holiday surprise when they are forced to pay more when returning from their Thanksgiving travel this weekend,” said Senator Weinberg. “This is a tax hike on wheels and there is more to come. Motorists who travel to and from New York City from New Jersey will have to dig deeper and pay more.”
This is the third increase since the authority hurriedly approved a plan in 2011 with one day of public hearings that were faintly noticed and hard to reach. None of the Port Authority’s commissioners attended the hearings. At the time, motorists paid $6.00 for off peak travel with EZ Pass and $8.00 for peak times and when paying cash. By 2015, cash tolls will jump to $15.00 and EZ Pass fares will go to $12.50 for peak travel and to $10.50 for off peak.
The Congressional Government Accounting Office was strongly critical of the Port Authority in an investigation of the way the toll hikes were implemented, citing a lack of transparency and accountability by an agency that has a lucrative monopoly on bi-state transportation.
“The way the Port Authority executed the toll hikes is emblematic of the agency’s standard operating procedure,” said Senator Weinberg. ‘They have a deaf ear to the public and far too little concern for the impact on the driving public. The authority acts like the ‘51st state,’ immune to the standards of accountability and transparency that any public entity should have.”