Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Port Authority Toll Hikes Have Unintended Consequences

The massive toll and fare hikes imposed by the Port Authority have apparently led to higher riderships aboard NJ Transit and PATH, if the New York Post is to be believed. I've been a regular rider on both NJ Transit and PATH and haven't seen bigger crowds, although any numbers could have been skewed in the past week due to serious delays and problems along the Northeast Corridor and ongoing problems with the Port Jervis line affecting train schedules and routings.

Benjamin Kabab at Second Avenue Sagas thinks that this is a trial run for congestion pricing and how rider/driver behavior can be modified through higher tolls to reduce congestion in Manhattan and get people to utilize mass transit.

The hikes might fatten the coffers of the Port Authority, but it may lead to lower revenues for New York City and New York State.

For instance, a parking garage near the Javits Center claims that they typically get $2,500 per day in rentals, but have seen $1,800 a day since the toll hikes began.

New York imposes a combined 18.375% tax on parking garages, which means that the city is losing a significant chunk of change. Instead of getting $459.375 in tax revenues from this one garage, it's getting $330.75. That's a drop of $128.63.

Over the course of a year, that's a loss of $46,948.13 to the city and state of New York. Now, you can argue that the benefits of improved Port Authority infrastructure outweigh this lost revenue, but that revenue is part of the city's and state's fiscal budget and if other parking garages are seeing lost revenues as a result of the hikes, then the hikes are going to affect the budgets for both the city and state in ways that aren't readily apparent.

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