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    PATH hike to be held to 25 cents

Friday, January 04, 2008  By RON MARSICO  NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE 
P{ATH Trains Hudson Tubes Hudson & Manhattan RR
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is expected today to vote to increase PATH rail fares by a quarter instead of the originally proposed 50-cent hike, officials familiar with the plan said yesterday.  PATH customers would pay $1.75 per trip, up from the current $1.50, while motorists using the Port Authority's Hudson River and Staten Island crossings would pay $8, under hikes likely to be approved today by the agency's board of commissioners.

Agency officials initially proposed raising PATH fares to $2, though New Jersey representatives privately were ambivalent since the overwhelming majority of customers are Garden State residents and because the agency has made increased use of mass transit a major goal in recent years. They said they do not believe New York's representatives would seek to block the reduction in the PATH hike. 

Additional revenue from the PATH increase was estimated annually at between $25 million and $30 million with a 50-cent fare hike. Estimated additional yearly revenue from the bridge and tunnel toll increases is roughly $300 million. Under the revised plan, discounted PATH fares still would be available to riders purchasing 20-and 40-ticket rides, with the average cost-per-ride somewhere between $1.30 and $1.35. 

More than 200 people submitted written or on-line comments about the increases. The reaction was mixed with 117 people opposing the toll increase and 18 opposing the PATH hike, according to an agency summary. Under the overall proposal, E-ZPass bridge and tunnel customers also would lose their peak-hour discounts, though they would now save $2 at off-peak hours. A new "GreenPass," offering a $4 off-peak discount, would be available to drivers whose vehicles get at least 45 miles per gallon and meet certain emissions standards.  

The new tolls and fares would take effect in early March, according to the officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the board has yet to vote.

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