Less savings for SmartLink users

Port Authority institutes new fares for PATH, tunnels, and bridges

Frequent PATH riders no longer get the same savings they once did after new fees were instituted last week.
Frequent PATH riders no longer get the same savings they once did after new fees were instituted last week.

PATH riders and SmartLink purchasers may have noticed they are getting less bang for their buck after the first phase of the Port Authority toll and fare hikes started on Friday, Nov. 1.

When buying in bulk, riders who purchased 10 trips on SmartLink once were paying $2.10 per trip compared to the $2.75 a single trip costs.

Now that fare has increased to $2.50 a trip and will increase again on Nov. 1, 2020 to $2.60 a trip, shrinking the savings.

According to the Port Authority, this marks the first change in five years to the multiple-trip discount. Single fare rides will remain the same at $2.75.

This is phase I of the Port Authority’s plan, which will also increase tolls at the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, Outerbridge Crossing, Goethals Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge, from $15 to $16 on Jan. 5.

Those who use E-ZPass will see a reduction in the peak hours discount from $2.50 to $2.25. In n the off-peak hours, the discount will go from $4.50 to $4.25. Discounts will be eliminated altogether for out-of-state E-ZPass users who aren’t from New York or New Jersey.

The bridge and tunnel carpool discount will also be eliminated. Toll booths are being phased out as part of the agency’s transition to cashless tolling. It’s difficult to offer a carpool discount without toll booth operators to see how many passengers are in a car.

These fares don’t only affect commuters but also those planning to take a trip from JFK or Newark Airport. The AirTrain JFK fare and the AirTrain Newark fare have increased from $5 a trip to $7.75 marking the first fare change since 2003 and 2005 respectively.

Port Authority says the increased fares are necessary to fund investments in their transportation assets and that the inflation-based adjustments will support the Port Authority’s 10-year, 2017-2026 $37 billion Capital Plan.

The Port Authority is a self-funded, independent agency that does not rely on taxpayer dollars or funding from the states of New York or New Jersey. While the Port Authority generates substantial non-toll and non-fare revenues through third-party fees, rentals, and other charges to businesses operating at its facilities, the agency says these sources are not enough to cover the full cost of building and operating the Port Authority’s facilities.

“If we are to keep the region moving and provide the 21st-century transportation facilities that the public deserves, we must continue to invest in rebuilding and refurbishing our legacy infrastructure,” said Port Authority Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford.

Where the money is going

As part of the 10-year Capital Plan the Port Authority will invest in rebuilding the region’s infrastructure, including airports, bridges and tunnels, ports, and PATH.

More than $30 billion in public and private funding has been committed to transforming the region’s three major airports; Newark International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and JFK International Airport.

The first new 18-gate concourse at LaGuardia Airport opened in December. The agency broke ground on the redevelopment of Newark Liberty Airport’s Terminal One, and it has advanced a $2 billion project for a new AirTrain Newark.

More than $10 billion has been committed to rebuilding and fortifying the region’s bridges, tunnels, and bus commuter facilities.

Port Authority has completed the new $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge, the first new bridge built by the Port Authority in 87 years, which opened last year. In June it completed a $1.7 billion project to raise and fully rebuild the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge, and construction has begun for the $1.9 billion project to restore the George Washington Bridge.

The Port Authority began the environmental review process for the replacement of the Port Authority Bus Terminal this past May.

More than $5 billion has been committed to improving PATH service, making it more reliable, and increasing capacity.

A new signal system for PATH trains has been installed, and the Port Authority initiated the PATH Improvement Plan which aims to increase capacity, reduce delays, and enhance the customer experience.

It has also opened the new head houses at the Harrison Station, the first new PATH station in New Jersey in more than two decades, and advanced multiple projects in the Superstorm Sandy resiliency program.

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.