New York tunnel and bridge tolls up 10%, transit gets payroll tax, car fee subsidies

May 12, 2009

New York City tunnel and bridge tolls, along with transit fares will rise 10% July 12 2009, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority board decided this week. But out of state E-ZPass customers will lose their transponder discount and face a steeper increase in their costs. Fares and tolls last rose March 16 2008.

An approximate 25% across-the-board hike in transit fares and crossing tolls was averted by the state legislature's vote last week to attempt to raise money for the transit system from a payroll tax hike and higher motor vehicle and taxi fees.

About a third of toll revenues from MTA Bridges & Tunnels (B&T) go to cover losses on rail and bus transit operations, but with traffic down the B&T revenue will hardly grow this year despite the toll rate hike, and the toll surplus will be much the same as last year.

Major crossing tolls using an E-ZPass transponder go from $4.15 to $4.57 and cash tolls from $5.00 to $5.50. This covers Bronx Whitestone Bridge, Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Queens Midtown Tunnel, Throgs Neck BRidge and Robert Kennedy (formerly Triborough) Bridge. Verrazano Narrows Bridge tolls, one direction only are twice the both ways tolls on other major crossings.

Minor crossing tolls from $1.55 to $1.71 with the transponder and from $2.50 to $2.75 cash.

Minor crossings are Marine Parkway and Cross Bay Bridge.

Henry Hudson Bridge tolls go from $1.90 to $2.09 E-ZPass and $2.75 to $3.00 cash.

Hit on Jersey and other out-of-staters - creeping protectionism

However in a growing sign of state protectionism non-New York Customer Service Center drivers with E-ZPass transponders will now pay the cash toll rate.  Out-of-state drivers with E-ZPass will therefore be hit with the loss of the transponder discount plus the toll increase.

Therefore a New Jersey E-ZPass driver using the Verrazano Narrows Bridge will soon pay $11.00 vs $8.30 now, a 32.5% increase.  This affects motorists enrolled by the New Jersey Turnpike, Atlantic City Expressway and the Delaware River bridges in Philadelphia and upriver who are serviced out of Secaucus NJ.

Motorists in New Jersey with the PANYNJ transponders will continue to get the transponder discounts because they are serviced out of the NYCSC on Staten Island NY. Both New York and New Jersey service centers are operated by the same company, Dallas TX based ACS.

New taxes and charges

The lossmaking New York transit system will be propped up with the following imposts on New Yorkers:

- 0.3% point increase in the state payroll tax in 12 counties served by the MTA,

- $25 more on vehicle registration,

- $2 more on driver licenses

- higher taxes on car rentals, and

- a 50c surcharge on taxi fares

The New York Times reports the package was cobbled together after weeks of negotiations between contending factions within the Democratic Party - Republicans voted against it - and that there is considerable uncertainty about whether enough money is being raised to cover the MTA deficit. Estimates were the measures would raise $1.1b implemented now and $1.9b in a full year.

Base subway and bus fares go from $2.00 to $2.25. The base fare of $2.00 yielded an actual fare/ride of $1.65 versus MTA costs of $4.50 per ride, a loss covered by subsidy of $2.85/ride.

By contrast bridges and tunnels average toll/trip was $4.31 vs cost of $2.95 making a profit of $1.36/trip for MTAB&T.

see worksheet on those revenue and cost per trip: 



Massachusetts following

In Massachusetts a similar scenario is unfolding in which the toll and transit agencies announce a large rise in fares and tolls, and then legislators contend over how to moderate the higher rates by finding increased tax revenues. In Massachusetts the Governor wanted a 19c/gallon increase in the gasoline tax whereas legislators seen set to increase the state sales tax from 5.0% to 6.25%. They are also considering smaller increases in the gasoline tax than the governor and a higher tax on alcohol.

TOLLROADSnews 2009-05-12

CORRECTION: New York is doing a payroll tax increase in 12 counties served by MTA to stave off big fare and toll hikes. We knew that and wrote that in the headline, but somehow slipped into falsely describing it as a 'sales tax' in the body of the text. We thank a reader for alerting us to the error. TOLLROADSnews 2009-05-13

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