Testimony of Zoe Baldwin
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Zoe Baldwin and I am the New Jersey Coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a policy watchdog organization working for a more equitable and environmentally sound transportation network in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
It's never easy to ask people to pay more to travel around the region, but in this case, the Port Authority has made a strong case that it needs the additional revenue for infrastructure maintenance and expansion of our transit network. Tri-State would like to voice its support for the proposed toll increases on the Hudson River crossings. The new tolling structure will not only bring in much needed transportation funding, but will also improve transit options, reducing congestion and carbon emissions.
It is expensive to maintain any bridge or roadway, and the Hudson River crossings are some of the most traversed infrastructure in the nation. The expected $300 million in additional revenues that the toll increase will bring will allow Port Authority to assure the integrity of our existing infrastructure and increase the capacity of our passenger and freight networks.
While we don't support increasing transit fares, it's necessary to point out that PATH riders pay a much lower percentage of the operating costs than other transit riders in the region, such as NYC subway and bus riders. The Port Authority should continue to keep fares as low as possible and to ensure that riders aren't overburdened by paying a large percentage of the system’s operating costs.
The proposed toll and fare increases will be the first increases implemented by the Port Authority since 2001, and the revenue is sorely needed to keep our region moving safely and efficiently. We ask Governor Corzine and Governor Spitzer to support the toll increases and for all our elected officials to focus on the benefits the higher tolls will bring.