No toll hikes on bridges across the Delaware River — for now

CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The Delaware River Port Authority has some good news for drivers who use its four bridges: A no-toll-hike pledge is being extended for an extra year.

When CEO John Hanson pledged to leave tolls alone until January 2022, DRPA financial officials projected he could wait even until 2023. Turns out, they were right.

“No toll increase at least before Jan. 1, 2023,” Hanson reassured. “We’re not guaranteeing a toll increase by then. We’re just saying that we’re sure between now and Jan. 1, 2023, no increases.”          

Roughly 53 million cars used the Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross, and Commodore Barry bridges last year.

The last time bridge tolls went up was in 2011, from $4 to $5. That was also the last time PATCO high speed line fares went up. 

Hanson can’t make the same guarantee for the trains, since governmental subsidies that may affect bond ratings are tied to those fares.

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

More than 11 million riders took PATCO last year — the highest ridership in 25 years.

The announcement came as the DRPA released its annual performance report, which included an $810 million, 5-year capital plan. The funds will go toward rehabbing the Ben Franklin Bridge, improving New Jersey access to the Walt Whitman, and repainting the Betsy Ross amd Commodore Barry bridges.

Crews will also begin work to reopen the Franklin Square Station on the PATCO line in Philadelphia, install new elevators at every station and put solar panels in New Jersey parking lots along the line.​