Port Authority pitches fare, toll hikes across NYC area

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is proposing fare hikes at bridges and tunnels across the area, along with a taxi and for-hire vehicle airport surcharge in order to offset improvements at New York City’s three major airports.

The Board of Commissioners is proposing a $1 fare hike on all port crossings, a $2.75 increase on the air train, and a $4 per ride “Ground Access Fee” for airport pickups in taxis and for-hire vehicles, along with an additional $4 fee for Uber and Lyft drop offs.

“You want to have state-of-the-art and the quality and you want to have them safe and secure? That costs money,” said Chairman Kevin O’Toole.

The hikes are expected to generate $235M a year.

However, some say the money is not just for improvements at the airports, but will be used to help cover the debt incurred by the Port Authority’s vast real estate holdings, like the World Trade Center complex.

“We still owe $8B worth of debt because of rebuilding the World Trade Center, and the World Trade Center complex is losing $400M every single year and somebody has to pay for that,” said Nicole Gelinas of The Manhattan Institute.

The hike has also drawn opposition from the city’s taxi drivers, who say they are afraid the hike could cripple an already weakened industry.

In a statement, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance said: “This fee, on top of a devastating $2.50 congestion surcharge in Manhattan and after a 36 percent drop in revenue for yellow cab drivers, appears manufactured at the state level to wipe out a sector that has kept the airports moving for decades.”

Also, the authority revealed that the AirTrain’s anticipated cost has hit $2.05 billion. The two-mile stretch of monorail was initially priced at $450 million in 2014.

The budget has since jumped by 365 percent.

“If we are to reap the benefits of mass transit, we have to provide mass transit that is attractive,” said Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority.

If the increases are approved, they would likely take effect between November 2019 and late 2020.