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Port Authority Approves Toll, PATH Train Fare Hikes; Commuters: 'It's Highway Robbery'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Port Authority passed hefty toll and fare hikes on Friday.

But instead of raising them all at once, commuters will be hit with five yearly increments, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.

At the Lincoln Tunnel commuters just weren't feeling the love for the hikes.

"It's just outrageous because it seems like everything goes up except our pay," said Lou Leone of Denville, N.J.

"I feel it's highway robbery," another driver said.

"I think it's crazy. I think it's ridiculous," added another.

WCBS 880's Peter Haskell On The Vote


The Port Authority said it was a difficult decision, weighing the needs of families struggling to make ends meet with the need to complete economic projects that will mean 131,000 jobs in the region. It came down on the side of jobs.

"We knew an increase in revenue for tolls and fares had to happen," Port Authority Chairman David Samson said.

Under the plan:

* The current E-ZPass rate will jump $1.50 next month, from $8 to $9.50 and eventually to $12.50

* If you pay cash, count on paying a $2 surcharge

* PATH train rates will rise from $1.75 to $2 now and eventually to $2.75

"Right now with the economy so bad we're struggling with the money. It's so bad for us," said Morris Martinez of Haldon, N.J.

If you're worried about budgeting your money, the new hikes will mean:

* You'll pay an additional $750 a year to use the Hudson River crossings during peak hours

* $132 a year more if you buy a monthly PATH ticket

* $125 a year more if you pay by the day on PATH and work a five-day week.

In exchange for shelling out more dough, the Port Authority plans to finish rebuilding ground zero, replace the suspender cables on the 80-year-old George Washington Bridge, fix the helix to the Lincoln Tunnel built in 1937, raise the roadway on the Bayonne Bridge so bigger ships can come here, and rebuild the Goethals Bridge.

"None of these projects is small, nor are they inexpensive, but we are called to continue our economic leadership and these billions in project investments translate to hundreds of thousands of jobs," Samson said.

The Port Authority extended the effective date until Sept. 18 so people going away for end-of-the-summer vacations will get a break.

The highest tolls are paid during the peak hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. On the weekends, peak hours are from noon to 8 p.m. and off-peak tolls are generally $2 less.

What do you think of the hikes? Sound off in our comments section.

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