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It could get a lot more expensive to get around our region, thanks to a new proposed Port Authority plan to sharply increase tolls and fares on its four bridges, two tunnels, and the PATH train.

Under the proposal, which needs approval from both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Governor Chris Christie, the cost to drive a car across a Port Authority bridge or tunnel would increase by $4 this September, with another $2 increase in 2014. Tolls will increase the most on the costliest users. By 2014, the peak E-ZPass toll would be increased by 75 percent. Off-peak tolls would be doubled. PATH riders will also be forced to pay. The base fare will rise from $1.75 to $2.75; with discounts, the average fare will increase from $1.30 to $2.00 per trip.

In its news release, the Port Authority cited the sputtering economy, post-September 11 rebuilding costs, and the expensive repairs needed on the agency’s aging infrastructure. But other groups noted that the agency’s finances also suffer from raids on its funds by New York and New Jersey.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Kate Slevin said in a statement, “Governor Christie is relying on the Port to contribute $1.8 billion to pay for road and bridge projects that should be paid for by the state’s bankrupt transportation capital program… Governor Cuomo is banking on $380 million in Port Authority funds to help pay for the remaining three years (2012-2014) of the MTA’s capital program.”

Tri-State also recently called attention to New Jersey DOT’s recently-released capital program which shows how the state has dedicated progressively smaller shares of its annual transportation capital program to transit over the past eight years.

On the Move readers, what do you think? Would you like to see more, and more affordable transit in our state? And how would you pay for it?

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