DRPA Board Postpones Decision On Bridge And PATCO Hikes

CAMDEN, NJ (CBS) — Commuters hoping for a break on pending toll hikes and PATCO fare increases will just have to wait a while longer for an answer.

Delaware River Port Authority board members, faced with dire potential consequences from Wall Street if they delayed the increases (see previous story), decided on Wednesday to put off their decision.

It’s not like they’re not trying. Commissioners are floating a number of possibilities to hold off on taking bridge tolls from $4.00 to $5.00, and making it 10 percent more expensive to ride PATCO.

But every suggestion evokes the same answer from the DRPA’s outside financial analysts, trying to guess what bond rating agencies might do.

Analyst Kim Whelan: “You’ve already deferred the tolls. You had three other deferrals, and (the bond market is) saying, for lack of a better word, ‘The boat has sailed.’”

Change anything from the current plan for fare and toll hikes, Whelan says, and those ratings will almost certainly go down, threatening a domino effect that could preclude the DRPA from getting bonds to complete a billion-dollar, five-year capital plan — and maybe put the agency itself in financial distress.

Still, the board may try to put off the PATCO hike until July, when the tolls are set to go up.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060.


One Comment

  1. Greg says:

    The salaries of top DRPA officials have triggered heated discussions from some state legislators and DRPA board members. Last month, board member and Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty sent a proposal to the new committee to decrease the salaries of John Matheussen, the chief executive officer, and some of the other top DRPA managers. The proposal asked to reduce Matheussen’s salary from $219,475 to $175,000.

  2. Kat says:

    Sorry, but in this economy, this is shameful but it’s what all businesses do. The poorer people are, the more the prices get jacked up. Buy a bum ticket, try to get help on the help phone. Gotta keep that bond rating up. I’m appalled at this what with elevators and escalators that don’t work for the elderly and disabled. Then there’s the DPRA’s charitable giving. Can’t forget new cars needed, probably built elsewhere. The beat goes on. Shame shame shame!

  3. itz says:

    The DRPA commissioners were appointed, some anointed, to make the hard decisions for this agency. Many times the decisions were wrong with the public paying the price of their mistakes and adventures. Time is now for the commissioners to tell “Wall Street” to bend over and take it like they have been giving it to the public over the past decade. Maybe Wall Strret would like to run the bridges and Patco.

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