Drivers rejoice: South Jersey bridge tolls frozen at current rates

 The Ben Franklin Bridge illuminated over the Delaware River. (Photo via Shutterstock)

The Ben Franklin Bridge illuminated over the Delaware River. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Delaware River Port Authority, or DRPA, is helping commuters keep their heads above water in more ways than one. The authority announced Tuesday that toll rates on the four bridges it controls will remain steady with no increases planned.

The toll freeze is the result of the agencies “fiscal stewardship,” said DRPA board chairman Ryan Boyer. The agency saw more than 53 million vehicles cross its bridges last year. The traffic generated more than $332 million — revenue the agency was able to use to support its operations across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“That is one of our core values, to provide all of our consumers with a quality product,” Boyer said, “but do it at the absolute minimal price possible.”

The toll schedule where westbound drivers pay at least five bucks to cross the Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross, and Commodore Barry bridges will stay where it is until at least 2023.

The decision sets DRPA apart from other public agencies in the region. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission recently increased tolls by 6%. Passenger vehicles paying the typical toll must now pay 10 to 20 cents more to use the highway, for example.

The Pennsylvania turnpike toll increase is part of an annual increase designed to make good on a funding obligation required by law to help pay for mass transit across the state.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also recently raised tolls. The change increased by $1.00, bringing the entry fee to New York to $16. The increase was due to inflation. Boyer said the DRPA’s toll freeze is “really unprecedented and really unique” compared to the other agencies. DRPA’s last toll hike was in 2011.

The authority also announced a fare freeze for PATCO train service as long as it remains financially viable. Riders pay at least $1.40 per trip to ride the interstate rail line that runs from Lindenwold to Center City.

“We’re not ruling out the possibility of a PATCO fare increase, if it becomes necessary as part of the overall subsidy management,” said John Hanson, CEO of DRPA and president of PATCO. “But at this juncture, there is no planned PATCO fare increase and none in the foreseeable future.”

Officials also announced PATCO’s ridership reached a 25-year high last year, with more than 11 million riders generating $27 million in revenue.

“We’re serving more people,” said Hanson. “Transit is a catalyst for growth in our neighborhoods, in our communities and in our businesses. So, we’re very proud of this performance.”

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