This week commuters bound for New York City from New Jersey got their first bitter taste of the increased Hudson River-crossing fare and toll hikes that were approved by the Port Authority on Aug. 19.
Joining commuters in their anger over the increased tolls was AAA New York. Crain’s reported that representatives from the AAA cited a 1987 federal law that would invalidate the increases; AAA said it may sue the Port Authority to stop the hikes.
“Like a football team after a bad play, we’re huddling,” said AAA New York spokesman Robert Sinclair.
Oleg Sabel, from New Providence, N.J., said he’s seen fares increase 100 percent since he started driving into the city for work in 2006. He said that the latest round of toll hikes will force his family to tighten their budget. “Less food for the kids? I don’t know, less school supplies?” Sabel said.
Other commuters have attempted to find alternate routes to avoid the new tolls, but many have had minimal success, reported the Wall Street Journal.
NJToday’s Michael Schneider interviews Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the AAA New York. According to Sinclair, the Port Authority’s use of toll funds to subsidize the construction of the World Trade Center building, a non-transportation facility, is illegal.
Port Authority officials said that the fare increases will be used to offset the costs of a $25 billion 10-year capital improvement plan that lists the completion of the new World Trade Center tower as a top priority. The agency says that additional revenue will also make improvements possible for the George Washington Bridge, Bayonne Bridge and a new fleet of PATH trains.
New Jersey’s Democratic lawmakers have also joined forces in opposition to the hikes. A group convened on Monday to publicly decry the hikes and call for a formal audit of the Port Authority.
Hoboken Assemblywoman Joan Quigley is among those lawmakers calling for an audit. “I personally have no concern that it’s being misspent but I need to know that their priorities reflect the priorities of the people here in New Jersey as well as in New York,” she said.
The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that between January and August of 2011, the number of Hudson River crossings from New Jersey to New York fell to 79.6 million from 82.3 million in 2010.
New fare and toll increases for New Jersey commuters means that some will have to make tough decisions about how they get around. NJToday’s David Cruz interviews drivers outside the Holland Tunnel.