Port Authority unanimously approves plan to raise prices on AirTrain as well as Hudson River crossings

Riders of the Jamaica AirTrain will be spending more per ride starting Nov. 1 after the Port Authority approved hikes to tolls, fares and fees. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Ad meskens)

BY BILL PARRY | Travelers using the AirTrain at JFK or Newark-Liberty Airports will have to shell out more cash as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced prices would increase from $5 a trip to $7.75 beginning Nov. 1.

The agency’s Board of Directors voted to approve its first “inflation-based” hikes to tolls, fares and fees since 2015.

“We go to every possible extreme to avoid fare and toll increases,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “But we must on the other had support investment in our aging legacy facilities.”

The AirTrain fare has not changed since 2003 at JFK and 2005 at Newark-Liberty. The Port Authority said frequent travelers, including airport workers, will still be able to purchase multiple trips and the current discount rate of $25 for 10 trips.

The Board also approved toll hikes on all Hudson River bridge and tunnel crossings (the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the Bayonne, George Washington and Goethals Bridges, and the Outerbridge Crossing) beginning next year, and there will also be a new $1.50 pickup and drop-off charge for e-hail and taxi trips at JFK, Newark-Liberty and LaGuardia Airports.

The hikes are expected to raise more than $25 million a year, which is necessary to upgrade facilities and infrastructure. Officials say a robust engagement process that included seven public hearings and a nine-week online comment period helped the board fashion the proposals.

“We continue to see unprecedented levels of passenger and cargo growth at all of our facilities, which makes it imperative that we continue to make record infrastructure investments to keep pace with this growth,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “While its never easy to ask the public to pay more to use our facilities, the 1,300 comments we received led to important changes to the proposal. The Board will continue to listen to the public as we implement these changes that help the Port Authority to enhance mobility and accommodate regional growth and economic activity.”

The board also revised its capital spending plan for 2017 to 2026, which goes from $32.2 billion to $37 billion, with $390 million in new funding for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s LaGuardia AirTrain proposal. That project that would connect the Willets Point rail and subway hub to LaGuardia is now expected to cost more than $2 billion, four times higher than it was originally expected to cost in the 2014 proposal.