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Buses too will pay more for Port Authority crossings


Pablo M 201

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Port Authority toll increase will hit buses hard

 

BY KAREN ROUSE

STAFF WRITER

THE RECORD

 

Drivers won't be the only ones digging deeper to pay the Hudson River tolls on Sept. 18.

 

Bus operators will also have to find extra cash — in some cases millions more each year — to cross the George Washington Bridge and travel through the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.

 

For example, NJ Transit and Paramus-based Coach USA — which pay $4 per bus to use any of the three Hudson River crossings, will see a 150 percent increase to $10 per bus, following last month's move by the Port Authority to hike tolls.

 

That amount, which applies to buses enrolled in the E-ZPass program, will climb each year until 2014, when the toll will be $13, said Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico

 

The dramatic increase has some transit advocates rattled and questioning whether those costs will eventually be passed on to customers.

 

"It's terrible," said George Grieve, president of Mahwah-based ShortLine Bus, a subsidiary of bus operator Coach USA. "They dropped it like a bomb."

 

Grieve said he spends about $300,000 per year in tolls to send buses from New York State and along Route 17 through Bergen County to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. "It's going up to $800,000," he said Tuesday. "It's tremendous."

 

He said managers throughout Coach USA will be meeting today to discuss how to deal with the increases.

 

"We haven't decided that yet," Grieve said. "With the price of fuel going so high — we have significant increases in health care. Then they throw this toll hike."

 

He said his buses make 1,352 trips per week through the Lincoln Tunnel and 25 use the George Washington Bridge.

 

NJ Transit, meanwhile, will see an even bigger increase. The Newark-based agency spent $4 million in 2010 on bus tolls, said Penny Bassett Hackett, agency spokeswoman. It will spend an estimated $8.6 million in 2012, she said.

 

But Bassett Hackett emphasized NJ Transit, which raised its own bus and rail fares between 10 and 25 percent last year, will not be passing on a new increase to customers to offset the higher Port Authority tolls.

 

The agency last year also eliminated discounted off-peak fares as part of an effort to close a $300 million budget gap.

 

"We will be able to absorb it," she said. "It will have no impact on our fares. [Executive Director] Jim Weinstein was very clear that we will not raise fares" this year.

 

She said there will be an impact on the operating budget, "but not a great impact."

 

Asked how NJ Transit will absorb the increase, Bassett Hackett said: "I don't think we've gotten that far. … We're going to take a look."

 

David Peter Alan, a member of NJ Transit's senior citizen and disabled advisory committee, said he believes a fare increase will eventually come, if not this year, some time in the future.

 

"I don't see how they can avoid doing this without passing it on to riders," Alan said.

 

Alan said there should be no charge at all for NJ Transit, a state-run transit agency.

 

"I'm outraged that the Port Authority would charge state instrumentalities like NJ Transit money to bring transit riders across the Hudson River when part of the objective should be to encourage people to use transit rather than to use the crowded highways. They are discouraging bus ridership."

 

Authority officials said the increase was necessary to deal with a variety of financial setbacks, including revenues lost in the worldwide recession and with investments.

 

It also was needed to carry out various projects, including rebuilding the World Trade Center — which is expected to exceed the agency's $11 billion cost estimate; replacing the George Washington Bridge's 80-year-old suspension cables and reconstructing the Lincoln Tunnel's helix approach, officials said.

 

The Port Authority board's swift decision on the hikes last month angered commuters, who will see staggered increases.

 

For cars, the $8 toll during peak hours will climb to $9.50 on Sept. 18, then an additional 75 cents a year each December from 2012 to 2015. Off-peak tolls for cars will also jump by $1.50 to $7.50 this month.

 

Cars paying cash will be hit with an extra $2 penalty, with their tolls rounded up to the nearest whole dollar.

 

PATH fares, currently $1.75, will increase 25 cents annually over the next four years, starting next month.

 

The bi-state agency is controlled by the governors of New Jersey and New York.

 

Martin Robins, a former Port Authority official who was instrumental in the creation of NJ Transit in 1980, said he was surprised the toll hike was disproportionately higher for buses compared to cars.

 

"To put the toll higher than for a passenger vehicle is very unbelievable," he said. "They're incredibly efficient ways of moving people around."

 

The fares seem "punishing," he said.

 

http://www.northjersey.com/news/transportation/129356738_Tolls_will_hit_buses_hard.html?page=all

 

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This is crazy.

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smh....

 

You can bet your bottom dollar NJT will raise those fares whether they want to admit it or not. The Delawere River Port Authority just raised its crossing about a month ago along with patco fares. I just dont understand as small as path and patco are that there fares are going to be higher then the nyct. They cant say they aint making no money. Its just a case of these people putting the money in they pockets thats all it comes down to.

 

If the new WTC was suppose to cost 11 Billion then how in the world now its going to cost more? I understand things like the supplies they need cost money but that money is going else where.

 

Back to NJT. Its too expensive now, can one imagine how it will be 10 years from now? It doesnt look good. Something has to give. Im lucky enough that I dont have to pay to ride but i feel for these pax.

 

PATH. I will never ride them again lol. Not with that fare hike which put them higher then the mta.

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smh....

 

You can bet your bottom dollar NJT will raise those fares whether they want to admit it or not. The Delawere River Port Authority just raised its crossing about a month ago along with patco fares. I just dont understand as small as path and patco are that there fares are going to be higher then the nyct. They cant say they aint making no money. Its just a case of these people putting the money in they pockets thats all it comes down to.

 

If the new WTC was suppose to cost 11 Billion then how in the world now its going to cost more? I understand things like the supplies they need cost money but that money is going else where.

 

Back to NJT. Its too expensive now, can one imagine how it will be 10 years from now? It doesnt look good. Something has to give. Im lucky enough that I dont have to pay to ride but i feel for these pax.

 

PATH. I will never ride them again lol. Not with that fare hike which put them higher then the mta.

 

Yeah, and it would be pretty funny if NJTransit express buses were more expensive than (MTA) express buses... :eek:

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Yeah, and it would be pretty funny if NJTransit express buses were more expensive than (MTA) express buses... :eek:

 

......

 

Zone based fares, a ticket can wind up costing more than 5.50...

 

Like the 111 to Jersey Gardens, which is already 6.50 one-way

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......

 

Zone based fares, a ticket can wind up costing more than 5.50...

 

Like the 111 to Jersey Gardens, which is already 6.50 one-way

 

That's true, but I was thinking moreso of my situation. I usually take the 162 or 163 to get over by the Garden State Plaza and that is 3 fares from the Port Authority, so it is something like $6.80 total now round trip, which IMO is peanuts compared to $11.00 a day roundtrip on the express bus here in the city. In any event though, it shouldn't be too big of a deal. I mean overall New Jersey is far cheaper than New York in terms of the overall cost of living.

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smh....

 

You can bet your bottom dollar NJT will raise those fares whether they want to admit it or not. The Delawere River Port Authority just raised its crossing about a month ago along with patco fares. I just dont understand as small as path and patco are that there fares are going to be higher then the nyct. They cant say they aint making no money. Its just a case of these people putting the money in they pockets thats all it comes down to.

 

If the new WTC was suppose to cost 11 Billion then how in the world now its going to cost more? I understand things like the supplies they need cost money but that money is going else where.

 

Back to NJT. Its too expensive now, can one imagine how it will be 10 years from now? It doesnt look good. Something has to give. Im lucky enough that I dont have to pay to ride but i feel for these pax.

 

PATH. I will never ride them again lol. Not with that fare hike which put them higher then the mta.

I'm willing to bet my bottom dollar that local base fare for the MTA will be at almost $3 before PATH hits that $2.75.

 

With NJT, they're going to have problems later if they don't raise those fares. I like how it was mentioned fares won't go up this year. Mmmhmmm, I bet next year it'll be a different story.

 

If fares have to go up, so be it. I agree with you, this is getting ridiculous with the fares, but with everything being so costly, we have our results now. Waste needs to be found and cut out.

 

Now, of course the operating budget will take a hit, but they know they're going to have to make that up later. Brings up a point when the fares went up last year, I think they purposely increased them more than needed to cover the cut of state aid that was lost. It's going to catch up with them sooner or later.

 

 

If you think about it, the buses will pay more, but they might see increased ridership (more likely to occur off-peak, which is beneficial) that will offset the additional tolls.

Can't depend on hope that ridership will increase, because if it doesn't increase, they'll have bigger problems on their hands.

 

If ridership does increase, then great! That's excellent news.

 

In the mean time, it's better to do whatever is best to make sure the system functions properly.

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