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Port Authority Plan Calls For Hikes At Bridges, Tunnels And Area Airports

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The cost of commuting in our area could be going way up.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unveiled a new plan that's packed with proposed fare and toll hikes to fund infrastructure upgrades.

The agency looked at its projects through 2026 and found they cost nearly $5 billion more than initially planned.

So tolls at bridges and tunnels, and the cost of taking PATH, the subway or a taxi to area airports could all be increased to help pay for those projects.

"It's less of an effect on the driver and more of an effect on the passenger. If anything, the passenger needs to be a little bit more outraged about it," one commuter told CBS2.

Driver Julio Marroquin's job takes him from his home in Brentwood on Long Island to Jersey City. He told CBS2's Hazel Sanchez he has anxiety thinking about a possible hike in tolls and added surcharges.

"Life in New York is getting way too expensive. I don't think people is going to be able to afford this increasings," Marroquin said.

E-Z Pass toll booths. (Credit: CBS2)

Under the plan, tolls at the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln and Holland tunnels and outerbridge crossings would increase by $1. EZPass discounts would be reduced by 25 cents.

For PATH riders, a 10-day SmartLink card would rise from $25 to $26. A 30-day unlimited card would go from $106 to $110.25.

The AirTrain fee to JFK Airport would increase from $5 to $7.75, and a $4 fee would be added for all taxi and ride-sharing pick-ups and drop-offs at area airports, similar to fees charged at airports in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance said it will ask its 22,000 drivers to strike if the plan is approved.

"Everybody out there knows that there's an unprecedented crisis for the drivers in this industry. Uber and Lyft drivers are still earning below minimum wage," said Bhairavi Desai, of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. "We've had nine driver suicides because of all the financial upheaval and instability."

Both taxi and app-based drivers fear the increase will cut into their already dwindling profits.

"That's not good for us, because you know what, it's too much money. The passenger, they feel good, and we're losing jobs. They will take the Uber or something like that," one yellow cab driver said.

The money would be used to pay for long-planned improvements at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports. Add to that new projects, including increasing capacity and reducing delays on the PATH trains.

Still, passengers say it's too much of a strain to bear the burden of having to foot the bill.

"I already pay a lot. I pay double. I come from Bayonne. So I take the light rail to the PATH to the subway to get to work," said commuter Brittaney Coleman.

Many commuters believe their concerns don't matter.

"They're gonna approve it if it's proposed, because that's what they do. (They) screw the average person," Nomi Khan said.

"The prices go up and all you can do is try to adapt to it," added Tavon Lane of Jersey City.

The plan will be officially proposed to the board of commissioners Thursday.

A series of community meetings will be held starting next month, where the public can weigh in on the proposal. A final vote will be taken in September.

    • Hearing #1
      • July 16, 8 a.m.
      • 4 WTC
        • 23rd Floor, 150 Greenwich St., New York, NY 10007
    • Hearing #2
      • July 17, 8 a.m.
      • 2 Montgomery
        • 3rd Floor, 2 Montgomery St., Jersey City, NJ 07302
    • Hearing #3
      • July 18, 7 p.m
      • EWR Terminal One Redevelopment Outreach Office
        • 79 West Jersey St, Elizabeth, NJ 07202
    • Hearing #4
      • July 22, 7 p.m.
      • College of Staten Island
        • Williamson Theatre, 2800 Victory Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10314
    • Hearing #5
      • July 29, 7 p.m.
      • Hilton Hasbrouck Heights
        • 650 Terrace Ave, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604
    • Hearing #6
      • July 30, 7 p.m.
      • JFK Building 14
        • 3rd Floor, Building 14, Jamaica, NY 11430

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