A vote today by the MTA Board raised tolls across the bridges and tunnels the agency controls. It’s an effort to raise more money to counter the authority’s $900 million budget hole.
The board considered two proposals. One would have raised tolls only for drivers who use cash, in an effort to get more drivers to use EZ Pass. The other proposal raises tolls for EZ Pass and cash users, but with the greater hike in tolls being borne by cash users. The latter plan is the one that the board adopted at 10:15 Wednesday morning. Only one boardmember voted against the increase.
Under the plan approved by the board, the toll across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will go up to $13.00 from $11.00 for cash users, while other major crossings, like the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, will rise to $7.00 from the current price of $5.50 for people paying with cash.
The increases, particularly those for cash-paying drivers, has some motorists echoing what some of the MTA’s critics are saying — that this increase hits hardest people who can’t easily afford it.
“It’s horrible,” Staten Island commuter Linda Paredes told PIX 11 News. “Things are so bad all over and they keep increasing everything. How many people will be able to afford this? Not many.”
Driver Michael Riccardi said he understands that the MTA has financial needs and that the Verrazano Bridge, which he regularly crosses, has problems that it takes money to fix, “But I would also ask that they have the discretion and that they have an audit of the transit authority. I don’t think the funds are being misused, I just want to know where all those funds are going.”
The toll increases will go into effect December 30. The MTA has said that no further increases are planned until 2013. At that time, however, the authority has made clear that it intends to raise tolls.