Port commissioner pushes Amtrak fee to fund New York-New Jersey cross-Hudson tunnel

September 30, 2015

Amtrak should levy surcharges on passengers traveling the Northeast Corridor as a way to help pay for the cost of building a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, a Port Authority commissioner said Wednesday at an infrastructure event hosted by POLITICO New York.Website Insert 5000 New Seats copy

Commissioner Kenneth Lipper, a financier and New York City former deputy mayor, said such a surcharge could help pay down whatever long-term debt is needed to fund the massive project, known as Gateway. Most of the initial money to pay for the tunnel will have come from the federal government — through direct grant dollars and through low-interest loans to New York and New Jersey, he said.

“State agencies and the states themselves do not have sufficient funds to do this without the inexpensive, federally insured bonding capability,” Lipper said during the Building New York’s Future event in Midtown. “In addition to that, you’re going to have to have a source of funding permanently. That would require a surcharge on every Amtrak ticket, very similar to what we do with flights that come into the Port Authority terminals. There’s a per passenger fee that goes to the crew maintenance and upkeep of the airports.”

The comments come two weeks after Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said in a letter to President Barack Obama that they would cover 50 percent of the cost of a new tunnel if the federal government agreed to fund the remainder. They said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey should be designated the lead agency in coordinating the effort.

Read the full Politico New York story from writer Ryan Hutchins by clicking here.


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