Another day, another conspiracy theory regarding the Port Authority's planned hikes for Hudson River crossings (and PATH riders). Yesterday the scuttlebutt was that the 50 percent bumps were a backdoor attempt to bring congestion pricing to the city and now at least one reporter is claiming the whole hike is just political theater to make commuters grateful when the actual increase comes in much smaller. Not that either theory is mutually exclusive.
The Port Authority won't vote yes or no on the proposal until the board meeting on August 19th, so right now everyone is doing a lot of posturing. Governors Cuomo and Christie in particular. Both governors have the ability to veto the proposed hikes and both most likely were well aware of them before they were made public last Friday, and yet both have since publicly feigned incredulousness regarding them. Yesterday in Albany Cuomo called the proposal a "non-starter," telling reporters "Is this a good time to be raising tolls? No, for many obvious reasons." Christie, for his part, claims his first reaction was "You're kidding, right?"
All of which gives some credibility to the theory, put forth by a Bloomberg official over the weekend, that in fact the whole point of the super-high fare hikes was to make a smaller hike more palatable to the average commuter. According to CBS 2's "political correspondent" Marica Kramer (you remember her) the actual numbers are going to look more like this: "the $4 increase in tolls during peak hours is now only expected to be $2. The $2 off-peak increase is now expected be only $1. And the PATH train rates are expected to go up 50 cents, not $1." And that does sound a little more reasonable, doesn't it?