NY Triborough Bridge & Tunnel to raise tolls 24% mid-July, 16mths after last hike

March 26, 2009

The most common toll on Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority facilities in New York City, the E-ZPass transponder toll for cars will rise by 23.7% from $4.15 to $5.26 in July after a 12/1 vote of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (NYMTA) board today. The toll hikes were part of a crisis package of higher charges and service cuts designed to close a looming $1.2b deficit in a $11b New York area public transportation budget.

Major factor in the crisis is MTA's reliance on a dedicated New York City real estate transactions tax and other city taxes hit by the Wall Street slump, but traffic is down too.

Also voted by the MTA board today was an increase in base fares on subways and buses from $2.00 to $2.50 and a rise in the price of a 30 day New York City MetroCard pass on buses and subways from $81 to $103.  These will take effect May 31. Fares on Metro North commuter rail to Westchester County and Long Island Railroad would rise by 24% also, going into effect June 1.

The vote supports a reduction of 1,100 in MTA's staff of 69,000 to effect savings. 35 bus routes and two subway lines will end. Other bus and train frequencies will be reduced and service hours curtailed.

Toll increases cash 30%, transponder 23.7% for average 25%

The toll increases would average 25%, split between the 23.7% increase in E-ZPass transponder charges and a 30% increase in the cash toll ($5.00 to $6.50). Close to three-quarters of tolls are collected by transponder.

The present $5.00 cash toll went into effect mid-March 2008 and was an 11% increase on the 2005 toll of $4.50. (Toll increases are shown in a table nearby.)

16 months since last toll hike

The cash toll increase of $1.50 voted today is by far the largest in history and will come into effect only 16 months after the previous increase.

Tolls are charged each way at eight of the nine TBTA crossings, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge Brooklyn to Staten Island being tolled one way at twice the toll of the other major crossings.

A finance commission appointed by the legislature last summer and chaired by veteran transport official Richard Ravich last December proposed that tolls be imposed in tax-supported bridges on the East River and Harlem River to collect $700m/year from vehicles entering Manhattan to raise extra revenues. His plan also involved a new dedicated payroll tax.

Neither has gained the needed support in the state legislature.

MTA executive director Elliot Sander was quoted by AP today as saying that if the state legislature allows extra revenue to be generated - for example by authorizing tolls on East River and Harlem River bridges - before the end of April these toll and fare increases and service cuts could be amended.

TOLLROADSnews 2009-03-25

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