New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved bridge and tunnel toll hikes that will yield an additional 7.5% of revenue at its monthly board meeting Wednesday.
The increases follow transit and commuter-rail fare hikes earlier this month that had been planned as part of the MTA rescue package that state lawmakers agreed to last year. The toll hikes take effect Dec. 30.
“We have worked hard, very hard, to keep to the 7.5% yield increase that was intended despite the shortfall of state revenues,” MTA chairman and chief executive officer Jay Walder told reporters following the meeting. “It’s only been possible as a result of the more than $500 million of cost savings that the MTA has identified to be able to support our budget.”
Officials project the fare and toll increases will yield an additional $413 million in 2011, according to authority budget documents. The hikes are steeper for drivers who pay cash to use the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels in the New York City metropolitan area. Most cash tolls will rise by $1 while most E-ZPass tolls will increase by less than 25 cents.
Walder said that the authority had considered the potential for higher tolls to reduce utilization of facilities. Moody’s Investors Service analyst Maria Matesanz said that past increases have had negligible impact on traffic.
“We haven’t seen a significant impact of the fare increases that they’ve implemented thus far on diversion of traffic,” Matesanz said. “More impact seemed to come from the recession, and the fuel price spike back in 2008.”