Port Authority Raises Tolls & New Jersey Transit Absorbs the Hike

As of 3 a.m. Sunday, September 18th, 2011, the current cost of living and commuting to New York City just became very painful for commuters and motorists. Drivers who pay with cash to drive into NYC through bridges and tunnels controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey now face a 50 percent increase. And it’s not over. Tolls are scheduled to rise an additional 75 cents more a year through 2015, with cash tolls rounded up to the nearest whole dollar. How many ways can we say “Ouch!”

Under a controversial toll increase the Port Authority approved raising bridge and tunnel tolls over five years by 56 percent, or $4.50 total.

New York City Bridge and Tunnel Toll Hikes in Effect:

New York City Bridge tolls were hiked up four dollars for the following bridges into NYC, for cars, from $8.00 to $12.00:

Tolls up 50% on NY's GWB

  • George Washington Bridge; Crossing the Hudson River from to Manhattan
  • Goethals Bridge: connecting Elizabeth, New Jersey to Staten Island over the Arthur Kill
  • Bayonne Bridge: connecting Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York, spanning the Kill Van Kull
  • Outerbridge Crossing: also crossing the Arthur Kill between Perth Amboy, New Jersey to Staten Island

E-Z Pass customers will see a hike in the tolls as well, though less than cash paying customers. Off Peak E-Z Pass bridge rates are now $7.50 while $9.50 will be changed during peak times (Weekdays: 6-10 a.m., 4-8 p.m., Sat. & Sun.: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.) The Port Authority has also extended its peak hours by an hour, so they last from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends

The Same tolls hikes will be felt on NY commuters for the two main tunnels bringing traffic from New Jersey into Manhattan:

  • Holland Tunnel: under the Hudson River connecting lower Manhattan with Jersey City, New Jersey at Interstate 78 on the mainland.
  • Lincoln Tunnel: connecting Weehawken, New Jersey with mid-town Manhattan also under the Hudson

The tolls will continue to rise through 2015, when a trip to New York City will cost a cash-paying driver $15.

New Jersey PATH Commuter Train Rates Rise Too

A single fare on the PATH train, the commuter subway system between Manhattan and New Jersey, has been raised by 25 cents, to $2 a ride. The fare will continue to rise by 25 cents for three additional years so the eventual raise will be a whole dollar over the former $ 1.75 train fare.

New Jersey Transit announced that it would also absorb the Port Authority’s toll increase, and would keep commuter fares stable. Other commuter transits such as Academy Bus won’t hike fares following toll increases even though the 150 percent toll hike hurts the bus companies as the tolls went from $4 to $10.

MTA Controlled NY Bridges and Tunnels:

MTA crossing charges went into effect 2 AM, December 30, 2010. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority charges tolls for either crossing with the exception of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. It’s pretty clear that if you don’t have E-Z Pass then you are simply wasting your money. Of course, the Port Authority rates also went up in the most recent hike and will continue to rise through 2015. If you need additional incentives to give into E-Z Pass, then check out the toll calculator.

For cars with nothing in tow, the MTA’s “major crossings” are as follows:

  • Verrazano Narrows Bridge: connecting the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York City at the Narrows; bridge toll is currently $9.60 for E-Z Pass and $13.00 cash toll but luckily the toll is only charged westbound only per car in cash.
  • Robert F. Kennedy Bridge: renamed from Triborough Bridge (sometimes spelled Triboro Bridge), is three separate bridges spanning the Harlem River, the Bronx Kill, and the Hell Gate over of the East River, the bridges connect the boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, and The Bronx via Randall’s Island and Wards Island, which are joined by landfill. For all that bridge travel, it’s almost a bargain with the tolls being currently $4.80 for E-Z Pass and $6.50 cash toll.
  • Bronx-Whitestone Bridge: crosses the East River and connects the boroughs of Queens on Long Island and The Bronx via Interstate 678 . Currently the White stone tools are $4.80 for E-Z Pass and $6.50 cash toll
  • Throgs Neck Bridge carries Interstate 295 over the East River where it meets the Long Island Sound. The bridge connects the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx with the Bay Terrace section of Queens. Tolls are currently $4.80 for E-Z Pass and $6.50 cash toll
  • Henry Hudson Bridge: spanning the Spuyten Duyvil Creek connecting the Spuyten Duyvil section of The Bronx with the northern end of Manhattan to the south at Inwood Hill Park. currently $2.20 for E-Z Pass and $4.00 cash toll

For cars with nothing in tow, the “minor crossings” are as follows:

  • Marine Parkway‑Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge: over the Rockaway Inlet is currently $1.80 for E-Z Pass and $3.25 cash toll for both directions.
  • Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge: tolls for both sides of crossing over the Jamaica Bay in Queens currently $1.80 for E-Z Pass and $3.25 cash toll.

Other NYC Tunnels Tolls:

The MTA also charges their tolls for NYC tunnels in both directions, so you have to pay to get ether in or out on the city.

  • Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel: officially the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, crosses under the East River at its mouth, connecting Brooklyn with Manhattan. The tunnel nearly passes underneath Governors Island and is currently charging $4.80 for E-Z Pass and $6.50 cash tolls
  • The Queens Midtown Tunnel: moving I-495, aka the Long Island Expressway or the LIE , under the East River from of Queens to Manhattan form East 34th Street and East 42nd is at $4.80 for E-Z Pass and $6.50 cash toll respectively.

Much Controversy Over the NYC Toll Increases

Port Authority announced the increase in late August and it was even higher originally!

The governors of both NY and NJ, who control the agency, approved the modified increase and had worked behind the scenes to keep it from being an even bigger increase. NY’s Mayor Bloomberg supported the final toll increase as well.

The Port Authority receives no tax money, so most of its revenue comes from tolls and fees, including rent paid by airlines at its four New York-area airports. Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward, has called the increases “absolutely necessary,” and officials note that the funds will also help pay for maintenance of tunnels, bridges and other transportation infrastructure.

“The bridges would eventually fall down” without increasing revenue available for maintenance, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during his weekly appearance today on WOR radio. “They have no choice. They have to act responsibly. They have to get more revenue.”

The controversial toll hike will help fund the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan; a move that drew criticism from the Automobile Association of America. The AAA urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to stop the increase, accusing the Port Authority of misusing funds that AAA says are only supposed to be used for transportation.

Avoiding the Toll Increase and get to NYC

It’s not just that it is too expensive to own a car in NYC, but rather, people cannot afford to drive their cars in and out of the city!

NYS Thurway approved their fourth Thruway rate hike in five early in 2010. That increase made drivers pay 5 percent more bringing the cumulative NYS Thruway increase since 2004 to 45 percent for cash-paying drivers of passenger cars. Tolls were instituted when the Thruway opened in 1954, and were intended to pay off bonds used to build the longest toll highway system in the United States. The tolls were supposed to disappear in 1996, but have not.

Cheaper Toll Access to NYC from the North:

The NYS Thruway does, however, feed into the Tappan Zee Bridge connecting Nyack in Rockland County with Tarrytown in Westchester County which only charges $5.00 to get close to NYC.
The Tap can be completely avoided, if one stays on the east side of the Hudson. If you want to get to NY avoiding the most tolls form the north:, take the Taconic Parkway to the Saw Mill then hop on the NYS Thruway. That will turn into the Major Deegan (same road, 87). Take exit 2 towards Willis Ave/3rd Ave Bridge. Bang a right onto Bruckner Blvd and this takes you right onto the Willis Ave Bridge which launches you right onto the FDR/Harlem River Drive. The Willis Ave Bridge over the Harlem River between Manhattan and the Bronx is one of the two free bridges into NYC.

Total Tolls: $1.25 at Yonkers Thruway.

Best Money Saving Routes to Manhattan from LI:

The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, aka the 59th Street Bridge or simply the Queensboro Bridge, is over the East River connecting Long Island City in Queens with Manhattan and is also still free. Of course, this commute only works if one is coming from Brooklyn, Queens or other Long Island areas.

Just Say NO to NYC Bridge and Toll Increases!

The Port Authority toll hikes do mean that if you commute from immediately south or west of NYC, you are either going to either drive further or pay more. If this makes you say: I need to sell my car in NY , you are in luck: