Image via Wiki Commons
The Port Authority is set to propose a series of comprehensive fare hikes across all its bridges, tunnels, and trains at a board meeting this Thursday, as amNY reported. A series of policy changes would be implemented along with the increases, including a new “ground transportation access fee” at major airports, a $4 charge for both pickups and drop-offs in ride-hail services, a $4 pickup fee for taxi trips, and an increase in AirTrain fares from $5 to $7.75. The additional revenue—about $235 million a year—would go toward the agency’s much-needed infrastructure improvements. The agency will also seek approval for a $4.8 billion increase in its 10-year spending plan, aimed toward upgrades at the area’s three major airports.
“These recommended increases in tolls and fare are both needed and measured,” said Rick Cotton, the Port Authority’s executive director, in a statement. “We also sought to spread the increases across all our operations to avoid undue burdens. We are wholly committed to delivering improved facilities as we ask our customers to share in supporting the infrastructure investments the region so desperately needs and deserves.”
The first hike would kick in for PATH trains and AirTrains at Newark and JFK on November 1, 2019. The Port Autthority has proposed keeping the $2.75 single-ride ticket on the PATH, but multi-trip SmartLink card fares are going up from $2.10 per ride to $2.50. One year later they would increase again to $2.60.
On January 5, 2020, the cash toll at six bridges and tunnels connecting New Jersey to the city would rise from $15 to $16 while E-ZPass tolls will increase $1.25. (The agency is proposing eliminating discounts for E-ZPass devices that are registered in states other than New York or New Jersey.) These would be the first toll increases since 2015. Port Authority would also eliminate the carpool discount and implement changes to its Staten Island bridge discount, which will only be available for drivers making 10 trips a month.
The new capital plan proposal also includes $1.64 billion for a new AirTrain at Newark, $350 million for Newark Airport’s Terminal One redevelopment, and $1.9 billion for the proposed redevelopment of John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The proposal comes at a time when taxi and ride-hail drivers are already feeling the pressure from the medallion financial crisis and the city’s new congestion fees. The new airport charges would add fuel to the fire for those drivers, but also for flyers who have to navigate the city’s already hard to access airports.
“Drivers are in crisis but the Port Authority underestimates our resolve,” Bhairavi Desai of New York Taxi Workers Alliance told the New York Times. “If they want a fight, they got one. Drivers: get ready to shut down the airports.”
The public will have opportunities to voice their opinions and concerns on the proposal at six public hearings that will take place in both New York and New Jersey.
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