Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
I’ve sat in on many negotiations and I still do, one of the things that I learned immediately is that you always start out asking for the universe. In other words, everything you hope to get the other side to agree on even if you know they won’t. It’s kind of rule #1 for both sides of the table. There are some lessons that the Obama administration could take away from the recent fight over toll increases on the Hudson crossings and trains from New Jersey to New York are managed by the NY/NY Port Authority, which also manages the sea and air ports.
The Port Authority announced less than a month ago that it would need to increase the tolls and fairs to cover future capital bulding and improvements. What the PA proposed was ginormous:
The increases would include a surcharge of $3 to increase the cash toll for using its bridges and tunnels from $8 to $15.
The authority also proposed raising tolls for autos using E-ZPass on the Port Authority’s crossings from $6 to $10 roundtrip for off-peak travel, and from $8 to $12 in peak hours. It said an additional $2 increase during peak and off-peak hours will be implemented in 2014.
The agency also proposed raising the fare for the PATH trains running from Lower Manhattan to New Jersey from $1.75 to $2.75 in 2011, with the average fare increasing to $2 from $1.30 given the steep 25 percent discount, which will be fully preserved. The 30-day unlimited pass will increase to $89 from $54
Both governors of New York and New Jersey, who must both approve any increases, objected, citing the lack of accountability of the PA and the burden of such increases on commuters and truckers. So what was the end result? After meetings involving the board of directors and the two governors representatives it was decided that the PA would get its increases just not the way they wanted them, in exchange for an audit:
Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved raising bridge and tunnel tolls over five years by 56 percent, or $4.50.
The authority board, whose 12 members are appointed by Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, voted unanimously today for a $1.50 toll increase effective next month for cars using E-ZPass during rush hour. Drivers paying cash will see the fee jump to $12 from $8.
Commuters on PATH trains will see one-way fares rise to $2 in September from the current $1.75, followed by additional 25- cent increases annually. The tolls apply to the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and three bridges connecting New Jersey to Staten Island.
The Port Authority also agreed to the governors’ call for an audit of its finances and to find cost reductions and increased efficiencies. New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli criticized the Port Authority’s spending on overtime earlier this week.
Now here’s the really painful part that is going to hurt New Yorkers the worst:
Tolls on trucks using E-ZPass will pay an additional $2 per axle in September 2011, and then an additional $2 per axle in December of each year from 2012-’15.
Tolls on trucks paying cash will have the same increase but will be subject to an additional $3 per axle cash penalty.
You know what that will do to the price goods coming in to the area? Look for everything to start to get real expensive.
One more little thing, so much for the promises of both governors not to raise taxes because this IS an increase in a tax on cars and trucks.
You should be either laughing or crying right about now but this is how it’s done. Ask for the ridiculous and just possibly you’ll get some of it.
So how does is this a lesson for the Obama administration? Simple, ask for the sublime and you can get the ridiculous but you have to stand your ground, and threaten even worse if you don’t get what you want.