Delaware River Port Authority votes no on biennial toll increase

December 11, 2020

Tyson Fisher


As several toll roads consider increasing rates to make up losses incurred during the pandemic, the Delaware River Port Authority has decided to keep prices where they are.

On Dec. 9, the Delaware River Port Authority board of commissioners announced it will not increase tolls on the bridges it oversees. The unanimous decision postpones a scheduled increase until at least 2022.

According to a news release, the toll increase delay will make it 10 years since the authority last raised toll rates. The board manages four bridges that cross the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey: the Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross Bridges.

“The board and DRPA leadership team has worked over the past several years to ensure that the organization runs efficiently and effectively,” Delaware River Port Authority Chairman Ryan N. Boyer said in a statement. “This hard work is acknowledged by a budget that freezes tolls for our customers and ensures we have the necessary resources to maintain and enhance the public assets entrusted to the DRPA.”

Currently, five-axle trucks pay $37.50 when traveling westbound from New Jersey to Pennsylvania on Delaware River Port Authority bridges.

That toll rate has been in place since July 2011.

The Delaware River Port Authority is to implement automatic toll increases every other year. Toll hikes are based on increases in the consumer price index in the Philadelphia area. With the latest decision to delay that increase, the port authority has postponed that automatic increase five times.

A decade of maintaining toll rates is the result of maintaining and reducing the annual operating budget. The Delaware River Port Authority recently approved of a $305.1 million budget for 2021, a 0.83% reduction from 2020. Next year, the port authority is expecting about $306.4 million in revenue from tolls and passenger rail fares. The board considered effects from the COVID-19 pandemic when reaching that number.

However, other tolls on either side of the river are moving in a different direction. In May, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority adopted a long-range capital plan that includes increasing toll rates on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. Effective since September, toll rates for the turnpike are up by 36%. Toll rates on the parkway are 27% higher. Both rates will be indexed beginning 2022, with a 3% increase cap each year.

In July, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced its annual toll increase. Effective Jan. 3, toll rates will increase by 6%, as it has consistently in previous years. LL