While most of the motorists agree that the single-digit percentage increase is not great, some say that it does affect how much they use the bridge. Others say it’s the continual increase that upsets them, especially since their use of the bridge is curtailed by the roadway-raising project underway for the last few years.
It affects Brad Grantham of Staten Island, who doesn’t own a car and whose family members live in Bayonne. He sees them every month or so and relies on family members to pick him up for get-togethers. So even though drivers pay the toll only when entering New York, it’s expensive for him to get picked up and then be driven home.
“On the holidays it’s $30 to get to and from Staten Island to see family in Bayonne,” Grantham said. “It makes it more difficult, especially with money more tight like it is now.”
“If there wasn’t such a large toll between me and my family, we’d probably get together more often,” Grantham said. “Between the toll and gas, you’re talking about $20 – even before you go out to lunch. It’s kind of absurd.”
“The scary thing to me, is who knows if it stops there,” Grantham said. “It seems like all tolls are always going up.”
Grantham said that when the toll went up to $7 it made a difference. Other budget areas are affected by toll hikes, he said, including food purchases.
Convenience still a factor
Long Branch attorney and former Bayonne Mayor Len Kiczek has his office at 8th Street, only a few blocks from the Bayonne Bridge. He is okay with paying the toll increase as long as he can get to his workplace via the bridge.
On days when he can’t get in by 9 a.m., he must take a different route, taking the turnpike and coming into Bayonne from the north, taking extra time and gas money.
He wants the increased toll to fund expanding transportation options for commuters, like the new Goethals Bridge or a new tunnel under the Hudson River into Manhattan.
Kiczek said the low gas prices the past year offset the Bayonne Bridge toll increase.
“It’s a necessary evil,” he said.
More money for less service
Steve Teitel, a Staten Island resident with a Bayonne business, has been unhappy with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for restricting his use of the bridge most mornings and on weekends.
“We’re paying more money and for less service,” he said, referring to the Raise the Roadway project and its frequent bridge closings. “This is the most expensive bridge crossing there is. It’s only a three-minute ride.”
“It’s hard to notice the $1 increase when the toll is so expensive anyway.’” – Daniel Smerda
Some suck it up
Bayonne resident Daniel Smerda goes over the bridge on a regular basis and has a multi-trip plan, so the toll increase is less onerous.
“It’s one dollar on my EZ Pass, so I don’t notice it,” he said. “It’s hard to notice the $1 increase when the toll is so expensive anyway.”
Smerda, who lives downtown, drives to the Jersey Shore frequently. It’s made easier by driving straight south through Staten Island.
With all the construction work going on at the 14A Turnpike Exchange, it’s worth it for him to pay the extra dollar and drive right over the bridge, rather than go all the way uptown to the turnpike, only to drive south again.
“Fourteen dollars or $15, what’s the difference,” said Smerda’s wife Lisha.
A Bayonne man who has family in Staten Island agreed. He asked that his name not be used. But he said that since he has the multi-trip plan, it was costing him about $6 a trip before the toll hike. Now it costs him $6.50.
“It’s not that much of a difference,” he said.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.