Earlier this week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced plans for toll and fare hikes to balance their checkbooks. Once again, we are reminded of the agency’s insensitivity to commuters.
In response to these proposals, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) issued the following statement:
“For years, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been a ‘challenged and dysfunctional’ agency. Together with my colleagues in the New York and New Jersey legislatures we have repeatedly tried to enact reforms that would hold the Authority accountable, most notably the “Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and Accountability Act,” which was rejected by Governors Christie and Cuomo.
“The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is slow to change without the added pressure of legislative action. It is up to both legislatures to renew our calls for reform.
Every day, more than 300,000 New Jerseyans rely on the Port Authority to get to and from work. New Jersey commuters should have a real say in the decisions that impact their everyday lives. We must do more to improve the Authority’s accountability.
“It is for this reason that I will be introducing legislation modeled after the key aspects of the Port Authority reform bill. This legislation will require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to have an independent entity conduct a needs assessment prior to any increase in tolls and fares for Port Authority bridges, tunnels and rail systems.
“Under this bill, the needs assessment would be made publicly available on the Authority’s website. The independent entity conducting the needs assessment would present their findings at a public meeting which would be held at least 90 days prior to any board vote on toll or fare increases.
“Additionally, this legislation would require the Port Authority to conduct at least six public hearings on any toll or fare increase at least 30 days and not more than 90 days before the board casts their votes.
“New Jerseyans are already paying some of the highest commuting costs in the nation; this fare spike would be a tough pill to swallow.
“Enough is enough. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is long overdue for transparency and oversight – I believe that this legislation will take us one step closer to realizing the promises of the “Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and Accountability Act.”
Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle plans to introduce this legislation in late June.