- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Motorists are paying more money to cross the bridges and tunnels linking New Jersey and New York after the last of five annual toll increases took effect Sunday.

Cash-paying customers now pay $15 during peak periods, up from $8 four years ago. E-ZPass motorists pay $12.50.

Since 2011, traffic on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s bridges and tunnels has continued a slow downward trend that began last decade. Officials are concerned about the agency’s ability to pay for numerous large projects, including a new bus terminal in New York City.

Port Authority Chairman John Degnan says the bistate agency isn’t likely to raise tolls again anytime soon. He says he’s looking closely at how to get revenue from the agency’s real estate holdings.

The toll increase come as the agency finds itself in the cross hairs of a fiscal challenge.

A recent report by Moody’s Investors Service concluded that the Port Authority now relies more on revenue from bridge and tunnel tolls than on revenue from its airports. At the same time, bridge and tunnel traffic has been steadily, if slowly, declining over the past several years, and future toll increases are a potential political minefield.

Add to that a lengthy slate of large capital projects that includes the new bus terminal projected to cost about $10 billion and a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, and the challenges become starkly evident.

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