MTA Approves Toll Hikes
The MTA board voted 12-1 on Wednesday morning to raise tolls on every bridge and tunnel including the Cross Bay Bridge and the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, with cash payers bearing most of the burden.
The board voted on a modified proposal that includes an 18 percent toll increase for cash paying drivers that brings the fare for the two bridges to $3.25, up from the current toll of $2.75.
There will also be an increase for E-Z Pass motorists as well. Non-residents can expect to see an increase from $1.71 to $1.80, while Rockaway and Broad Channel residents crossing either bridge will pay an increase from $1.13 to $1.19. Subsequent crossings on the Cross Bay Bridge after the first two paid trips within a single day will remain free for residents.
Last week the MTA had announced a choice of two separate proposals on which they would vote. The first was to increase the cash toll from $2.75 to $3.50 and not increase E-Z Pass tolls at all. The second called for an across the board increase of 10 percent for both cash and E-Z Pass. However, the board passed a modified combination of the two proposals as described above. The increases go into effect December 30.
Major crossings that include the tunnels and Verrazano Bridge will rise from $5.50 to $6.50 for cash drivers ($13 for the Verrazano). E-Z Pass drivers on the major crossings will also see the same five percent increase as the local bridges. The toll will rise from $4.57 to $4.80 with an E-Z Pass.
A study released this week by the Automobile Association of America (AAA) suggests that the toll increases may eliminate about 180,000 cars from the road as drivers turn to mass transit instead and decide to give up their cars. The automobile advocacy group estimates those drivers will decide not to renew their car registrations. The estimates are based on the decrease in registration renewals experienced after the last toll hike.
MTA officials said the toll increases will raise $106 million for the agency, while the mass transit fare increases approved last month will raise an additional $300 million. The MTA budget deficit currently stands at $900 million.