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Queens Chronicle

MTA approves bridge and tunnel toll hike

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Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2010 12:00 am

And the hits just keep on coming.

Just three weeks after approving fare hikes, and four months after implementing devastating bus and subway service cuts, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board Wednesday voted in favor of increasing tolls on major bridges and tunnels and minor crossings.

Under the approved new crossing charge schedule, which goes into effect Dec. 30 along with the MetroCard increases, cash tolls on borough crossings like the Robert F. Kennedy, Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges and the Queens Midtown Tunnel jump to $6.50 from $5.50. E-ZPass customers will see charges rise to $4.80 from $4.57.

Drivers paying cash to travel across smaller bridges like the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial in Howard Beach and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial in Brooklyn will pay $3.25 instead of $2.75, while E-ZPass customers will pay $1.80, a slight bump from $1.71.

The MTA said the estimated $107 million in annual revenue it expects to generate from the hikes will go toward mass transit.

MTA Board Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay Walder said the difference in cash and E-ZPass increases is meant to promote a complete move to the electronic system.

“It is significantly more expensive to collect a cash toll than an E-ZPass toll,” he said in a letter to the Board dated Oct. 21. “This cost of collecting tolls does not improve [bridge and tunnel] services and it reduces the funds available to support mass transit. To make every dollar count, we need to encourage cash customers to switch to E-ZPass. Furthermore, higher E-ZPass market shares also helps reduce congestion on our facilities, keeps traffic moving and minimizes the impact on the environment.”

Robert Sinclair Jr., spokesman for the New York chapter of the Automobile Association of America, blasted the toll hikes as “unfair.”

“Vehicle owners currently pay a staggering amount of money to support the MTA, with additional funds diverted from motorist-related needs to cover the fiscal mismanagement of the state and cash-strapped authority, all while our roads and bridges deteriorate,” he said.

The approved MetroCard increases include monthly unlimited passes jumping to $104 from $89, and single-ride cards to $2.50 from $2.25.

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