Early reports from the New York Department of Transportation seem to show that toll hikes in the month of September on NYC bridges and tunnels connecting the city to New Jersey may have pushed more commuters to use public transportation. The reports note that between September 19th and November 22nd of 2011 a total of 890,000 fewer cars traveled over the fare-hiked roadways than did in the same time period in 2010 — that totals a 4 percent decrease in travelers. During the same period, the ridership on the public transportation routes that connect New York and New Jersey rose by about 560,000 passengers.
On September 18th the Department of Transportation hiked the fares on the Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, and the George Washington Bridge from $8 to $12. “Shifting more transit is definitely a good thing for the economy and the environment,” Veronica Vanterpool, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, told the New York Times. “While transit across the region and especially across the Hudson River has seen tremendous growth in ridership, there hasn’t been a comparable level of financial investment in transit service.” Officials said that the transit system could absorb a 4 percent increase in ridership with 340 new cars on the PATH train and plans to replace mechanical switches with computers that will let trains run closer to each other which will increase train travel and benefit travel time.
In 2008, the DOT saw an increase in ridership on public transportation from New Jersey when tolls went from $6 to $8 but that increase only lasted for a small time before car traffic rebounded. With tolls now up to twice what they were in 2008, it is possible the DOT has hiked it enough that this increase in public transportation riders will stay high. As of now, figures for exact ridership and vehicle traffic aren’t complete for the last month, but with these rough numbers we are hopeful that the recent fare increases are working to push commuters in the right direction.