Regardless of the lawsuit that AAA New York has going against the Port Authority, the agencies plan of increasing tolls has taken effect.
The increase took effect last Sunday.
Cash toll prices have increased to $13 at the George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing.
EZPass fees for off-peak crossings increased to $8.25, and on-peak rates went to $10.25. Rates are lower in some cases. EZPass drivers in the Port Authority carpool plan are paying only $4.25.
But the biggest issue, according to AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair, is the increase on truckers.
Truck drivers with 18-wheelers will have to pay an amount exceeding $78.
He said the two main things that get transported into New York are food and building materials. The increased cost for truckers will burden local consumers as well, Sinclair said.
“All consumers will suffer as truckers pass along the increased cost of doing business in our region,” said Sinclair.
The suit filed by the organization, formerly the Automobile Club of America, claims that commuters heading into Manhattan are paying to help reconstruct the World Trade Center, which the Port Authority owns, when toll money is only supposed to pay for bridge and tunnel maintenance.
But the legal proceedings have only just begun.
“We are still in the discovery process,” said Sinclair “We are still collecting information.”
Sinclair claimed the PA, which could not be reached for comment, has been reluctant to provide proper documents when asked and that they have added additional lawyers to fight the case.
“This is an organization that needs a top-to-bottom reorganization. It doesn’t make economic sense,” he said.
The Port Authority last increased tolls in September 2011, and has an additional plan to raise them in December, according to the website transportationnation.org.
The tolls will be increasing another 75 cents or more every December for the next three years under the Port Authority’s plan.
Sinclair said that will be tough on motorists already dealing with higher costs for everything, including higher tolls on the bridges operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in addition to a $10 charge taken from New York drivers every year for theft and insurance fraud prevention.
“This toll hike plunges the knife deeper into the backs of motorists already overburdened by excess tolls, fees, surcharges, high gas prices and gas taxes and a nearly depleted state highway fund,” said Sinclair in a press release.
He added that in a recent article he came across, New Yorkers spend more time repairing their vehicles than people do in other states, due to the damaged roads.