Another toll hike coming in January on 2 major NJ roads
TRENTON – Tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway will increase by 3% again in January, under the budget adopted Tuesday by the agency that manages the toll roads.
When the Turnpike Authority approved big toll increases in 2020 of 36% on the Turnpike and 27% on the Parkway, it also approved a process allowing for them to be raised gradually going forward, by up to 3% a year, without conducting public hearings separate from its regular monthly meetings.
That formula relies on the rate of inflation, which has been rising at a pace not seen in approximately 40 years. The consumer price index for the New York region was 6.2% over the past 12 months, as of September, and 8.1% in the Philadelphia region.
The average Turnpike toll for passenger cars will rise to $5.10 from $4.95 currently. The cost for driving the full length of the Turnpike increases from $19.42 to $20.01 during peak hours and $15.01 during off-peak hours.
Tolls for individual trips vary depending on where a driver enters and exits, whether they’re using E-ZPass and whether they’re on the road during peak or off-peak hours.
Parkway tolls will increase from $1.96 to $2.02 at most toll plazas for customers paying through E-ZPass and from $2 to $2.10 for those paying by cash. At the Toms River toll plaza, where tolls are collected in both directions, the tolls will be $1.01 and $1.05.
Ramps will charge either 70 cents, $1.01, $1.39 or $2.02 to drivers with E-ZPass. Cash tolls are rounded up to the nearest nickel.
Other toll roads
A similar increase could be considered for the Atlantic City Expressway at the South Jersey Transportation Authority’s next meeting on Nov. 16.
Tolls are increasing even though the Turnpike Authority budget is healthier than anticipated after the first nine months of 2022.
How much money does the Authority collect?
Revenues are running 6% ahead of expectations through September, nearly $104 million. Toll revenue is nearly 3% ahead of forecast due mostly to an increase in tractor-trailers using the Turnpike; August saw the most commercial traffic on the road ever recorded.
However, the authority says toll transactions and toll revenue were below budget in particular on the Garden State Parkway, as high gas prices have reduced discretionary traffic. It says traffic remained 6% below 2019 levels for the first nine months of 2022, though September was down only 3%.
Additionally, expenses were around 8%, or $40 million, below what was budgeted through September, mostly due to maintenance spending.
For 2023, the Turnpike Authority's operating budget is around $714 million. Its payment on debt service is $958 million.
Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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