Friday's vote on the proposed $4 and $2 Port Authority toll hikes and $1 PATH hike is shaping up to be a doozy. The PA is holding meetings defending its position to the public right now (with an online hearing scheduled for 2 p.m. and more set for this evening—full list of times and locations here), as governors Cuomo and Christie are posturing for a hike-wary public. The groaning over the hikes has gotten loud enough that Port Authority executive director Chris Ward had to put out a statement yesterday defending his agency's plans.
"We recognize that the proposed increase is substantial," he wrote, "but it is also absolutely necessary to ensure the financial strength of the Port Authority and to maintain and grow the critical transportation infrastructure that serves the bi-state region." Without a massive infusion of cash Ward says that the PA might not be able "to continue work on current projects, including the completion of the World Trade Center site, as well as fund a new, ten-year multi-billion capital investment plan to repair and replace an aging transportation infrastructure that forms the backbone of the region’s economy." Because when all else fails, why not pull the 9/11 card?
Anyway, because of those reasons Ward feels that the it is important that the agency get its massive hikes, which he says won't just be good for the PA. he says they'll also be good for all of us! Because with them, the region will get better infrastructure and an estimated 167,000 jobs created (worth about $9.7 billion in wages).
Still, no matter how much it says it needs the cash (and it looks like it really does), the governors of New York and New Jersey aren't jumping to pitch in for the PA. While both Cuomo and Christie have made clear that they will approve some kind of hike, both are playing hardball about it. Even the much-whispered smaller hike seems to be off the table for now, though don't be surprised to see it rise again come Friday's vote.