Reforming the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey


Since its creation over 90 years ago, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has played an invaluable role managing the region’s transportation infrastructure and promoting its economic...

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Reforming the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

June 29, 2012

Since its creation over 90 years ago, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has played an invaluable role managing the region’s transportation infrastructure and promoting its economic development. Unfortunately, recent actions and news reports have raised questions about whether the Port Authority has lost sight of the fact that it is an agency not only funded by, but also accountable to the public.

As chairman of the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, I have taken action on a number of fronts to investigate and rein in the Port Authority’s excesses. After requests for information from the agency were ignored, the Assembly voted to grant my committee subpoena power for its investigation.

Concerns regarding accountability at the Port Authority increased significantly last August when its Board of Commissioners approved a series of toll and fare hikes that began in September, 2011 and will not end until December, 2015. At present, most New Jersey commuters using Port Authority bridges or tunnels pay more to Port Authority in tolls than they pay to New Jersey in income taxes. In little more than four years, tolls and fares will rise over 50%.

Beyond concerns specific to the toll hikes, recent media reports have also highlighted issues regarding overtime costs and salary supplements for Port Authority employees, cost overruns for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and concerns about excessive patronage among recent new hires. Earlier this year, a management audit described the agency as a “challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership.”

In addition to my legislative investigation and pending reform legislation, I have also called for the Port Authority to suspend the toll hikes approved for the coming years citing the fact that many of the regions residents pay more to the Port Authority in tolls than they pay to the State of New Jersey in income taxes.

My work to reform the Port Authority will continue until the agency has restored the public’s trust.