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    FARE HIKE A PATH TO UNLIMITED RIDES 

By PATRICK GALLAHUE, Transit Reporter r patrick.gallahue@nypost.com
P{ATH Trains Hudson Tubes Hudson & Manhattan RR
January 5, 2008 -- The Port Authority is tearing a page out of the MTA's playbook - and not just by hiking fares. 

The agency that operates the PATH trains between New York and New Jersey will soon offer unlimited daily, weekly and monthly fares to its 227,000 daily customers, along with yesterday's fare increase. 

Under a new fare structure that was approved yesterday - the first PATH train increase in seven years - riders will be able to buy an unlimited one-day $6 fare, a seven-day $18 fare, and a 30-day $54 fare, like the ones that are available for city subways and buses. 

The announcement came shortly before the PA's board unanimously approved an increase on PATH train fares from $1.50 to $1.75 and on 10-, 20- and 40-ride discount fares from $1.20 to $1.30. 

The PA had originally planned to raise the base fare to $2 and discounted fares to $1.50. But one day before yesterday's vote, officials said they had softened the planned hike. We want to keep mass transit as low as possible, because we want to encourage people to use mass transit," said Anthony Coscia, chairman of the PA's board. 

Like the MTA's fare hike on MetroCards last month, the changes will take effect on March 2. 

Drivers will also take a hit under the plan. 

Millions of motorists passing through the PA's New York-New Jersey tolls will also start paying more, shelling out $8 in peak hours and $6 off-peak.  Cash customers would pay $8 at all times.  "Since Sept. 11, our security costs have risen astronomically," said Port Authority Commissioner Bruce Blakeman, moments before the vote. "It is imperative we have this toll increase," Blakeman said. 

But the increase also comes with environmental "policy goals," Coscia said. Pre-registered carpools will pay a $2 toll, up from $1, and E-ZPass customers who drive qualifying low-emission vehicles will be eligible for a new $4 off-peak toll rate called the GreenPass Plan on the Outerbridge Crossing, George Washington, Bayonne and Goethals bridges, and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. 

The additional revenue will help fund $650 million in added security since 9/11 and $4 billion to keep bridges and tunnels in good repair.  "There are clearly deficiencies in the transportation infrastructure in this region," Coscia said. 

"We don't want a bridge to collapse . . . We're making investments that will hopefully keep this region strong." 

The board also approved a $1.45 billion deal with the Australian company, the Westfield Group, to develop 500,000-square-feet of retail space in the World Trade Center.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/01052008/news/regionalnews/fare_hike_a_path_to_unlimited_rides_253413.htm

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