As the MTA continues to struggle to close its $800 million budget gap, drivers will now have to dig deeper into their pockets to pony up the cash to cross the city's bridges and tunnels. In a measure approved 12-1 today by the MTA board, fares will increase in January by about 18% for drivers paying cash, but only about 5% for those using EZ-Pass. According to a statement sent out by the MTA, fares at the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and Throgs Neck bridge will increase by one dollar (to $6.50) for those paying cash and 23 cents (to $4.80) for those using EZ-Pass. Over at the Verrazano, the cash toll will increase by 2 dollars (bringing the cost of crossing the bridge to $13), and those using EZ-Pass will pay $9.60.

Other crossings controlled by the MTA include the Robert F. Kennedy and Bronx-Whitestone bridges, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and smaller crossings like the Henry Hudson Bridge—users of those bridges can expect a similar hike as well. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan says the MTA "intends to introduce a new card next year that will allow customers to go to hundreds of retail locations in the region and reload their E-ZPass accounts with cash using the same process that prepaid debit card customers use to reload these cards today. This card will be linked to customer’s E-ZPass accounts and will permit customers to refill their accounts with cash through an existing debit card network."

Note that the MTA only controls bridges and tunnels that operate within city limits; those that cross the Hudson are run by the Port-Authority and won't be subject to a fare hike (yet).