I believe it was 2017 when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey first announced charging each taxi & FHV a $4 fee for the opportunity of using their blacktop as they waited for fares. This would coincide with toll increases at their river crossings, like the George Washington Bridge/Lincoln Tunnel, as well as fare increases for their Air Train.
From where I sit, the Port Authority needs ground transportation at New York City’s airports to service the millions of airline passengers flying into New York. Besides deriving income from our industry, the Port Authority owns real estate, restaurants, and has its own police force, and employs a total workforce of 7,000 employees (with much nepotism, I might add). The Port Authority SHOULD BE PAYING, NOT CHARGING each of those vehicles $4 to insure service to those airline customers!
The unfair vehicle tolls at the river crossings managed by the Port Authority are the highest in the country: $16 for the George Washington Bridge, for example. I remember when the toll to cross the Hudson was 50 cents. A 3,100% toll increase in my lifetime seems a bit high, don’t ya think? Yet the Port Authority stays up nights creating new sources of income, at the expense of the public and hard-working drivers.
We say that New York is the greatest city in the world, or at least the greatest city in America, but driving or flying into New York City can deplete a family’s vacation fund rapidly, with unexpected expenses like their absurd tolls and additional taxi fees. If a family rents a car, good luck with the multiple tolls and paying for parking. The daily parking rate in NYC costs more than you used to pay for a daily motel room.
Anyway… Let’s get back to the Airport Access Fees. It’s already bad enough that some passengers do not believe in tipping drivers above the flat rate, yet the Port Authority believes they are entitled to a piece of the already slim taxi fare pie that really should go to drivers servicing airline passengers. They simply don’t give a crap about us!
One would think that the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) would take up the plight of licensed drivers with the Port Authority, but the TLC has always been the best at passing the responsibility and kicking the ball to others.
That is why I thank, and we should all be grateful to the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade for advocating on behalf of all airport ground transportation segments, and getting the Port Authority to delay the Airport Access Fees until the NYC taxi industry can recover from this pandemic. Thanks to this worthy association, the $4 Access Fee will be reduced whenever it is initiated.
Here are a few tips for the Port Authority: YOU DON’T RAISE TOLLS OR ADD FEES DURING A PANDEMIC! Instead, the Port Authority should sell some of their real estate holdings that would bring them a financial windfall. Simply taking away most of those orange colored EZ-Passes in use by their employees would more than cover any income received by charging taxi drivers to enter the airports.
They should also save the $200 million given each year to New York and New Jersey Governors without accountability. Now you understand why both Governors do not speak out against the ever-rising tolls, and why they do speak out and advocate the federal government for more $ for the Port Authority.
The Port Authority should also sell all those retails store and restaurant leases paying exorbitant rents. Now is the time to sell the assets they have attained since raising the tolls 3,100%!
Theoretically, these moves could bring over $30 billion to the Port Authority, more than enough to run the Port Authority for five years without any toll or any collection. (Free bridges and tunnels? What do you think?)
The Port Authority needs to be reorganized – with the public directly deciding how it is to be run, which assets sold would bring them the most money, and having the public decide if their employees should have free EZ-Passes, let alone how much, if anything, to charge taxi drivers.
Instead, this out of control bureaucracy feels the need to charge drivers of taxis and FHVs $4 per entry into the parking lots at JFK and LaGuardia – whether that vehicle successfully picks up a fare. Once again, thank you MTBOT. To paraphrase a John Lennon quote: “Power to The People”… not the Port Authority!