Unless you hear that there’s a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking, the next most hated sentence from Jersey drivers is that your tolls go up.
January 1 is the day of the toll increases on the state’s three largest toll roads. Some smaller toll agencies are also increasing their tolls, while other authorities have stayed the course on the increases. Let’s take the tour so you don’t have any surprises at the toll booth on New Year’s Day.
A caveat – all of these authorities are self-sufficient, which means they earn income primarily through tolls or other sources such as concessions. They do not receive funding from the state gasoline tax or other taxes.
New Jersey Toll Highway Authority
The big news was that the authority that manages the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway was adding a 3% increase in tolls on January 1, 2022, not even two years after a huge increase of 36% on the Turnpike and 27% on the Parkway. in September. 13, 2020.
The bad news for drivers was in the agency’s 2022 budget, which addressed the stealthy increase with a single line on toll indexing.
Toll indexation is the new way toll increases will be managed, increasing every year instead of once every 10 years or so, based on an economic indicator. The bad news is that this bite comes right after a really big bite last year.
The increase means the current cost of $ 1.90 for passenger vehicles at Parkway toll booths will increase to $ 1.96 for E-ZPass customers and $ 2 for cash customers. The average toll passenger vehicle toll which now costs $ 4.80 will drop to $ 4.95 under this increase
Turnpike Authority officials have championed the increase needed to fund freeway and bridge projects as part of the agency’s ambitious $ 24 billion investment plan to be completed over more than a decade. . Biparty bills proposed in the Senate and State Assembly combat the increase with legislation that would reverse that increase and prevent the authority from automatically increasing tolls.
Atlantic City Freeway
The South Jersey Transportation Authority followed the Turnpike Authority’s lead by increasing tolls by 3% on January 1.
The highway uses the same toll indexing formula, but that authority bases its decision on the US Consumer Price Index (CPI) as opposed to the unnamed indicator used by the Turnpike Authority. Tolls also increased by 37% on the highway on September 13, 2020. Fares vary by exit and toll booth and include discounts for E-ZPass customers.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Drivers of passenger vehicles (cars, minivans and SUVs) will not see a toll increase this year for using the Authority’s six Hudson River crossings. Although the authority has moved to indexing tolls, there is no increase until the CPI increases the rate by $ 1. Tolls last increased in 2019. Fares have been kept down despite the authority’s $ 3 billion loss in revenue since the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, buses and some other larger passenger vehicles will see their tolls increase on January 1, causing concern for some commuters who use private commuter buses. Private bus companies saw no coronavirus relief aid from the federal government that transit agencies saw when COVID -19 decimated ridership to and from New York and the use of public transit systems. charter buses. The bus toll increases by $ 3 per bus or from $ 14 to $ 17 on January 1.
Delaware River Port Authority
Is it possible for a toll agency to be a superhero to the drivers? That’s if they didn’t increase tolls for more than a decade, which DRPA commissioners did for 2022. The authority voted to keep tolls stable for the eleventh consecutive year to cross its four Toll bridges between New Jersey and Philadelphia.
While most toll agencies saw both traffic and revenue rebound from lows during the height of the pandemic, DRPA management decided the additional revenue was enough to keep the line going. DRPA bridges saw a 14% increase in bridge traffic this year and a corresponding 12% increase in toll revenue between January and September. The authority’s budget predicts that the revenue trend is expected to continue in 2022 with an expected increase in toll revenue of $ 33.6 million
Delaware River Toll Bridge Joint Commission
Tolls on bridges operated by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission were increased on April 11 and will rise again in 2024 after commissioners voted in March to increase them for the first time in 10 years.
The decline in passenger car traffic and toll revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the burden of maintaining 13 âtoll-freeâ bridges with the revenues from the seven toll bridges were cited by commissioners as the reason for the toll increase in two phases. The commission’s net toll revenue for 2020 was $ 14.48 million less than predicted in a traffic engineering report,
Delaware Memorial Bridge
The authority that operates the bridge, the Cape May Ferry and several smaller airports have approved a 2022 budget of $ 92.14 million. The bridge’s revenue in 2021 and forecast for 2022 outperformed 2019’s profits, before the pandemic hit, according to financial documents. The budget did not include increases beyond the $ 5 cash toll and the $ 4.75 E-ZPass fare for passenger cars.
Cape May County Bridge Authority
Tolls to use five Jersey Shore bridges that connect the seaside towns of Cape May and Atlantic counties will increase by 50 cents from February 1, from $ 1.50 to $ 2 for passenger vehicles. tourism. The rate for other vehicles would increase proportionately.
Ultimately, tolls will double in three years under a plan proposed by the Cape May County Bridge Commission. The toll increase has to cope with a drop in toll revenues between 2010 and 2020. The last toll increase dates back to 2009.
The Authority operates the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, the Townsends Inlet Bridge (between Avalon and Sea Isle City), the Corsons Inlet Bridge (between Ocean City and Strathmere), the Middle Thorofare Bridge (between Cape May and Wildwood Crest) and the Grassy Sound Bridge (Middle Township between North Wildwood and Stone Harbor).
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Larry Higgs can be reached at [email protected].