The Answer Man

Dear readers,
We’ve been through this before, and we will get through the next two weeks as well. Checkpoints will continue at Canal St., meaning back-ups north of Canal. The U.N. General Assembly will be in full bloom starting Sept. 19, and I am expecting some, if not most of the 80 world leaders to head Downtown to visit the 9/11 National Memorial. This means traffic jams as their motorcades wind their way through Lower Manhattan’s narrow streets. President Obama will be in the Big Apple from Mon., Sept. 19 through Wednesday to attend a series of fundraisers, meet with world leaders and to address the world body. In addition to Downtown, the F.D.R. Drive below 63rd St. and East Midtown will be the most affected.

Port Authority toll hikes take effect 3 a.m. Sunday morning, Sept. 18th, with fares for passenger vehicles at the six Hudson River crossings rising from $8 to $9.50 for E-Z Pass users during peak hours (from $6 to $7.50 off-peak). Drivers paying cash will pay $12 at all hours. The one-way fare for the PATH will also rise from $1.75 to $2.

From the mailbag:

Dear Transit Sam,
Can you clarify the status of E-Z Pass discounts now that NJ has eliminated the discount on the NJ Turnpike unless you have an NJ-issued tag? We relocated to NJ from Lower Manhattan two years ago and have enjoyed all the off-peak discounts on the Outerbridge Crossing, Holland Tunnel and Verrazano Bridge. We also applied for and received NY tags on the plan, but we’re still not clear as to which one goes with which crossing.
Robert via e-mail

Dear Robert,
You’re not the only one who’s confused. E-Z Pass was intended to be all for one and one for all. Ever since the MTA decided to only honor the discount for NY-issued E-Z Passes (then the NJ Turnpike Authority recently followed suit only honoring discounts for NJ-issued E-Z Passes), many tri-state area drivers have been opting to open two E-Z Pass accounts, one for NY and one for NJ, in order to maximize the discount they receive. So here’s the breakdown for you: When you cross the Outerbridge, Holland Tunnel or one of the other four Hudson River crossings, either E-Z Pass will work since the Port Authority of NY and NJ recognizes E-Z Passes issued from both states. At the Verrazano Bridge along with the other eight MTA crossings, only an NY-issued E-Z Pass will net you the discount (you’ll pay $9.60 at the Verrazano as opposed to $13 with a NJ E-Z Pass). I’d encourage all readers to write both Governor Cuomo (NY) and Governor Christie (NJ) and ask them to help put this silliness and confusion to rest.
Transit Sam

Need to know when the President’s in town? Confused about ever-changing traffic regulations and transit operations? Need help navigating around Lower Manhattan? If so, send me an e-mail at TransitSam@downtownexpress.com or write to Transit Sam, 611 Broadway, Suite 415, New York, NY 10012