Drivers will soon be feeling the impact of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's budget crisis after its board voted Wednesday to approve toll hikes for the bridges and tunnels under its control.
Tolls for E-ZPass users will be increase by five percent. Those who pay cash will see hikes of about 17 or 18 percent.
On the major crossings, tolls for E-ZPass users will rise to $4.80. The one-way toll on the Verrazano Narrows will cost $9.60.
On the minor crossings, like the Marine Parkway and Cross Bay Bridges, E-ZPass users will pay $1.80. The toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge will rise to $2.20.
Those who pay cash will be hit even harder.
Cash tolls on all major crossings will go up to $6.50, except for the Verrazano, where the price will rise to $13.
Drivers paying cash will pay $3.25 on smaller bridges and $4 on the Henry Hudson.
Protesters gathered outside of MTA headquarters ahead of the vote to express their anger at the increases, but opponents speaking at the meeting had a much more subdued reaction to the hikes. "The previous and eliminated proposals to eliminate cash tolls while keeping E-ZPass tolls the same favors people who can afford to own cars, while those who cannot afford a car and must rely on transit will be impacted by a fare increase," said Veronica Vanterpool of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "It is important to incentivize a shift to E-ZPass."
"I'm surprised there was less outcry by the public about the tolls," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.
"I think if the increases in tolls were to move more people over to public transit, I don't think it'd be the worse thing," said MTA CEO and Chairman Jay Walder.
The MTA's financial problems mean that another round of hikes is set for 2013. And while no one says it is likely, there's no guarantee it can't happen sooner.
"We have put forth plans that show how we will be able to do it. We intend to stay with the schedule that had been adopted. Regular, periodic fare increases, in 2011 as we have just done it, and in 2013. And our plans are to stay with that," Walder said.
When it comes to crucial state aid, even advocates who are opposed to the fare increases say lawmakers must step up.
"You know, it's a simple message: Riders to Albany, Help. It's going to have to happen," Russianoff said.
Many drivers who spoke to NY1 during Wednesday's morning commute were less than thrilled by the news.
"I pay over $100 almost everyday, just in tolls," said a livery cab driver.
"It's crazy. I'm actually talking to my family about moving out of New York because everything is so expensive now," said another.
"It's ridiculous. I mean, you know, shouldn't they get rid of the tolls after the tunnels are paid for, after the bridges are paid for? It's ridiculous!" exclaimed a third.
The vote comes on top of subway, bus and commuter rail fare hikes already approved earlier this year.
The toll and fare hikes are slated to take effect on December 30, the same day as the other mass transit fare hikes.