HAMILTON, NJ - As the Legislature begins to take up proposed legislation to address concerns about the Port Authority, AAA recommends a that all reforms should reflect a series of core principles to protect toll payer’s rights.
AAA has created a Bill of Rights for New Jersey’s Toll Payers to encourage fair, open equitable practices to govern authorities that collect tolls and guide the spending of the toll revenues.
Over the last several years there have been considerable abuses of toll payers trust when it comes to the actions of New Jersey’s bi-state tolling agencies. It is important that the causes of these abuses be determined and proper steps taken to ensure that such abuses not happen in the future.
AAA believes that there are a number of core principles that should guide the reform efforts when it comes to the state’s tolling authorities. These principles are:
- New transportation projects must ensure that the system significantly enhances safety, mobility, and reliability to provide an appropriate return on investment to motorists who will continue to pay most of the costs.
- Transportation improvements should be based upon needs that are clearly identified and outcomes that are supported by research and assured through application of performance standards.
- Transportation taxes, fees and other revenue collected from motorists must be equitable and transparent. Transportation agencies must demonstrate to the public that transportation resources are managed wisely and efficiently.
- Motorists must receive direct and recognizable improvements to their travel experience if they are asked to pay more.
- Revenues generated from taxes, fees, and other pricing mechanisms paid by motorists must be dedicated solely to meeting identified transportation needs and protected from diversion to other uses.
- Public-private partnerships to increase transportation investments must be carefully managed to ensure that motorist fees are fair and equitable, that motorist fees are not diverted to non-transportation purposes, and that the facility is consistently maintained and improved.
- Publicly owned transportation facilities should only be sold or leased to private interests if agreements require the maintenance of high levels of service and remain under public oversight. Revenues resulting from the sale or lease must be used only for transportation purposes and compensate the public for the value of the facility.
- Transportation fees, taxes, and other revenue collected from motorists should fairly represent their use of the system, and all transportation system users should bear a proportionate share of financing the system.
- All tolling agencies should be required to adhere to open and transparent practices, including but not limited to the open records laws of all states that they serve.