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Local Residents Say Proposed Hikes Would Decrease Number Of Family Visits

Impact would be felt by North Jersey residents already strapped to afford food and gas, residents said

During the corporate lunch break hour in Mahwah Wednesday, Patch caught up with local residents who were outraged about the proposed Hudson River crossing fare hikes announced earlier this week by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Local residents called the idea “terrible,” saying that if the hikes go through, they may alter their usual professional and personal travel routes.

North Jersey resident Gilbery Puig said his family would need to reduce its weekly trips into the city to visit relatives “down to maybe once a month.”

The Port Authority is proposing a toll and fare hike for cross-state travel. The proposal is scheduled to go into effect in September, with additional adjustments in September 2014.

PATH rides will go up from $1.75 to $2.75 and the unlimited monthly pass will be increased from $54 to $89.

Tolls for autos using E-ZPass will increase from $6 to $10 roundtrip for off-peak travel and from $8 to $12 during peak hours. An additional $2 increase during peak and off-peak hours will be implemented in 2014, the agency said. Other increases can be found on the Port Authority's website.

The increase will effect all bridges and tunnels from New York to New Jersey, including the Bayonne Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.

A public hearing on Aug. 16 and a board meeting on Aug. 19 will be held before the increase can go into effect.

In the announcement, the Port Authority mentioned increased security costs since 9/11 and the current economic environment as reasons for the increase. The Port Authority does not receive tax money, "making its toll and fare structure the primary way to fund the region’s critical interstate transportation network," according to a statement.

According to the statement, more than $11 billion in funding is still necessary to rebuild the World Trade Center site on Manhattan.

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg on Friday afternoon expressed is opposition to the proposed fare and toll hike, calling the proposal "outrageous."

"First the Governor cancels the ARC Tunnel, and now commuters stuck on the road are facing unconscionable toll increases to get across the Hudson," Lautenberg said in a statement. "These increases are disproportionately punitive to New Jersey residents and fundamentally unfair."

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said they would review the proposals, but expressed concerns. 

"The Port Authority is facing financial issues but so are families in the states of New York and New Jersey, and the answer cannot always be an indiscriminate and exorbitant increase in the cost to the taxpayer, or in this case, toll payer. As families must carefully and effectively manage their finances at this difficult time, so must government," the governors said in a joint statement Friday. 

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