Cash tolls will likely go up $4 next month to $12, eventually hitting $15 by 2015, according to a new deal approved by Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, which the Port Authority will vote on today. E-ZPass users would be spared slightly with a $9.50 price tag at peak hours and subsequent increases coming every year — rounded up to the dollar, of course — for all six bridges and tunnels. It’s not the 50 percent increase originally proposed, so everyone comes out looking okay after a bit of “political theater.”
But as the New York Times reports, skipping out on the fees altogether is actually less risky than one might imagine. One New Jersey man traveling to Staten Island twice a week drove through a gateless E-ZPass lane 998 times, dodging a total of $5,254 in tolls. And he still hasn’t paid.
The bureaucratic process of forcing a toll-skipper to pony up includes tracking down the license plate, asking nicely in a letter, and if that doesn’t work, pursuing the matter in civil court. “That is one of the great untold secrets for any given agency,” said the director of government affairs for the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. “You’ll probably spend more time and money chasing the toll than you will get for the toll.”
Only about 2 out of every 100 cars going through Port Authority crossings cheat the toll, but that still has resulted in $14.2 million in losses over the last two years. The latest hikes, though, were approved in part to cover the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, so everyone else can just consider the good karma priceless.