Today’s news:

AAA opposes raising tolls on New York City crossings

The American Automobile Association of New York City has suggested that higher tolls on MTA bridges and tunnels could drive hundreds of thousands of motorists out of their cars, depriving the transit agency of millions of dollars in revenue.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority was scheduled to vote this week on whether to increase tolls on bridges and tunnels.

“AAA New York calls attention to the unfair number of fees and surcharges motorists already pay to support the cash-strapped authority,” the AAA said.

“Vehicle owners currently pay a staggering amount of money to support the MTA with additional funds diverted from motorist-related needs to cover the fiscal mismanagement of the state and cash-strapped authority, all while our roads and bridges deteriorate,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., spokesman for AAA New York.

“New fees to bail out the MTA have already been imposed on drivers and money that was supposed to be used to build and maintain roads, bridges and tunnels has been diverted to the state’s general budget,” Sinclair said.

“Vehicle registrations in New York fell by nearly 180,000 after toll hikes in 2003,” the statement said. “With so many motorists struggling financially, toll hikes could lead to a similar reduction and with it, a loss of motorist-generated revenue in the MTA,” AAA New York said.

“AAA New York has calculated that a motorist using cash on a daily commute on one of the MTA major bridges or tunnels would pay an additional $500 per year, raising their commuting cost to $3,250 annually, E-ZPass customers would see a $115 annual increase to a total of $2,400 per year.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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