Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Bait and Switch

Last week, the Port Authority unveiled a plan to raise fares and tolls. That plan would have raised peak-hour E-ZPass tolls on those crossings to $12 a ride, up from $8, cash tolls on those crossings would be raised by $7, to $15 a trip, and PATH fares would jump $1 to $2.75.

Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo both weighed in showing concern over the plan.

Outrage over the hikes was pretty much absolute.

Yet today we learn that the plan was floated so that a still significant hike would appear to be far more palatable. We're supposed to be thankful that the fares would rise only 50 cents, to $2.25 on PATH, and that tolls would rise to $10 from $8.
The steep hikes sought by the Port Authority for the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and other crossings, and the PATH train are not expected to be as high as you think.

Kramer has learned that the $4 increase in tolls during peak hours is now only expected to be $2. The $2 off-peak increase is now expected be only $1. And the PATH train rates are expected to go up 50 cents, not $1.

Sources told Kramer on Tuesday that the lower rates were always the goal. They only asked for the higher rate as part of a carefully orchestrated political ballet to give Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie cover for approving any hike at all.

The push back from the original Port Authority plan released just last Friday is already in full gear.
It was always about the politics - to secure an increase while opposing cuts that would never have had a chance of passage.

Consider this a fait accomplis.

The hikes are supposed to cover major infrastructure improvements, including replacement of stringers on the George Washington Bridge, raising the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate super-Panamax ships, ongoing work around Ground Zero, additional railcar purchases for PATH, and other projects in the region.

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