Cars now must pay $13 to cross Hudson River into Manhattan, economic punishment in part due to 'economic downturn'
12/1/12, "Hudson River toll hikes will hit truckers hardest," Bergen Record, Shawn Boburg
"The toll hikes taking effect Sunday on the Port Authority’s Hudson River crossings are unlikely to be embraced by many motorists, but they are especially unwelcome by truckers, who will see the most dramatic increases.
“It’s out of control. I’ll never cross the George Washington Bridge again in my entire life,” said David Irwin, a Michigan-based driver who must now pay $75, up from $65, to drive his five-axle truck across the one-mile span. Only five years ago, the cash toll for his truck was $30. Further increases already approved will push it to $105 by late 2015....
But independent truckers predicted that the pain would eventually extend beyond their own pockets, to consumers who have to pay more for products transported to store shelves.
Many North Jersey residents will feel a more immediate impact: For the first time, peak-time tolls for E-ZPass holders have passed the $10 mark, rising 75 cents to $10.25. Cash tolls for cars will be $13, up from $12.
Bergen County motorists make up more than one in five of all weekday drivers on the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln and Holland tunnels combined, according to agency data.
Today’s toll hikes are the second of five annual increases approved last year in a process that critics said was rushed and lacked transparency. At the time, the agency said higher tolls were needed to offset security-related projects following the 9/11 attacks, a drop in revenue caused by the economic downturn, and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex now estimated to cost $14.8 billion.
The Port Authority expects that in 2013 it will make $150 million more in tolls and fares than it did in 2012, according to a proposed budget announced Friday.
The driver advocacy group AAA sued the Port Authority last year, arguing that the increases violate a federal law requiring interstate tolls to be “fair and reasonable.” That suit is ongoing.
“This toll hike plunges the knife deeper into the backs of motorists already overburdened by excess tolls, fees, surcharges, high gas prices and gas taxes and a nearly depleted state highway fund,” said AAA New York manager of media relations Robert Sinclair Jr. “All consumers will suffer as truckers pass along the increased cost of doing business in our region.”
Tom Teddy, an Indiana-based trucker who owns his own rig, said it’s difficult to recoup the cost of tolls from customers, who typically pay a set per-mile rate that doesn’t take toll roads into account.
“As a trucker, you’re going to avoid toll roads, and you’re just not going to do business with people who keep raising tolls,” he said.
Teddy and a handful of others familiar with U.S. highways said the George Washington Bridge tolls are the highest they encounter anywhere in the country.
Jason Cabrera, a driver for Store-Wide Delivery in Secaucus, said company managers have been increasingly asking drivers to avoid toll roads, or drive late at night when rates are lower, after two of their trucks racked up $4,000 in tolls in a month.
“They’re trying to kill the industry,” said Darwin Reyes, owner of Kings Trucking Corp. Reyes says he is reluctant to take a jobs that requires crossing the George Washington Bridge. “Now, no one likes going into New York.”"
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