The New Jersey Turnpike Authority plans to vote on its proposed toll hikes at a special meeting set for Friday, with those potential changes to take effect on or about Dec. 1, according to spokesman Joe Orlando.
The turnpike needs additional toll revenue to increase its debt service coverage, which currently stands at 1.2 times. Debt service coverage on NJTA debt must not fall below 1.2 times in accordance with the authority's bond agreements and its target is 1.4 times coverage.
The NJTA announced this week that it would decrease its 10-year capital plan to $7 billion from $9.7 billion after officials agreed to scale back on proposed toll hikes on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway and add discounts on the two roadways. The toll increases would also support a $1.25 billion contribution towards a new $7.6 billion passenger rail line that will run from Newark to Manhattan's Pennsylvania Station.
In addition to the smaller capital budget, the authority's $239 million operating budget would decrease by $13.8 million, or 5.8%, through job elimination and reduction of overtime, among other spending cuts, according to a Oct. 7 letter that Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri sent to Gov. Jon Corzine.
The toll changes include increasing the senior E-Z Pass discount by 10%, and implementing a 5% off-peak discount for trucks using E-Z Pass, and a 10% off-peak E-Z Pass discount for low-emission vehicles. The toll hike proposal now calls for boosting the average passenger trip on the turnpike to $1.70 from $1.20, a 50-cent increase compared to an earlier proposal to increase the toll by 60 cents.
The new plan still includes a 90-cent boost in 2012. Proposed parkway toll hikes remain the same, with the average passenger trip increasing this year to 50 cents from 35 cents. In 2012, that toll would increase by an additional 25 cents.
The new proposal includes average truck tolls on the turnpike to boost by $2.05, down from the original plan to increase truck tolls by $2.55 this year.