Almost any way you slice it, it’ll cost more to cross the Delaware River starting today.
July 1 marked a double hit in area fare and toll hikes. With PATCO fares up and bridge toll increases, motorists and riders can expect to pay more on the speedline and when crossing the Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges.
Tolls on each of those bridges will increase by $1 to $5. The bridges all have one-way tolls.
Senior citizens can still get discounts on bridge crossings in two ways: there is a 50 percent E-ZPass senior discount, or seniors can use discount tickets to get a $2.50 toll, according to the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), which oversees PATCO and the four bridges.
Crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge—run by the Delaware River and Bay Authority—also costs more starting today. Tolls for passenger cars went up by $1 to $4 round-trip.
Tolls for the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington Bristol bridges, run by the Burlington County Bridge Commission, remain unchanged at $2.
Meanwhile, PATCO also has a new fare structure. Riders will pay about 10 percent more, with the total cost depending on their trip. A round-trip ride from Collingswood to Philadelphia, for example, now costs $5.20, compared to $4.70 before the increase.
New fares range from $2.80 round-trip for a ride between any Philadelphia station to $6 round-trip for a ride from the end of the line in Lindenwold to Philadelphia.
Fare and toll hikes have been in the works since December 2009, when the DRPA’s board approved the increases.
Although riders and motorists are unlikely to cheer the extra cost, the DRPA, in a news release, put a positive spin on the hikes. The extra money, the agency says, will fund much-needed capital improvement projects, which total $1 billion. And, according to the DRPA, those projects will create 30,000 private-sector jobs.
"Keeping our bridges and PATCO well maintained and safe is our single most important responsibility,” John J. Matheussen, president of PATCO and CEO of the DRPA, said in a statement. “Our customers who pay the tolls and fares have every right to expect that their hard-earned money is being spent on keeping our bridges and trains safe, secure and serviceable.”
Ongoing and upcoming projects identified by the DRPA include:
• Replacing the center deck of the Walt Whitman Bridge
• Structural repairs and drainage and electrical improvements on the Ben Franklin Bridge
• Structural repairs, drainage improvements, deck corrosion inhibitor application, security and lighting improvements and ramp widening work on the Commodore Barry Bridge
• Structural improvements, concrete and drainage repairs and steel repairs on the Betsy Ross Bridge
• Overhaul of all 120 PATCO cars
• Repaving and repairing Haddonfield and Ashland stations’ PATCO parking lots
• Replacing PATCO power cables, pole lines, fiber optic lines and other communications and signaling lines
And, look on the bright side, Collingswood commuters—maybe the extra influx of cash will finally get the escalator at the station working again.
New PATCO Fare Structures (Source: DRPA)From: To: One-Way Fare Round-Trip Fare Lindenwold, Ashland and Woodcrest Philadelphia $3 $6 Haddonfield, Westmont and Collingswood Philadelphia $2.60 $5.20 Ferry Avenue (Camden) Philadelphia $2.25 $4.50 Any NJ station except Broadway and City Hall Any New Jersey station $1.60 $3.20 Broadway (Camden) City Hall (Camden) $1.40 $2.80 Broadway and City Hall (Camden) Philadelphia $1.40 $2.80 Any Philadelphia station Any Philadelphia station $1.40 $2.80