"When it costs $12 to drive your car across a bridge in America, something is wrong," says U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who is joining forces with U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R- NY) today in announcing the Commuter Protection Act to restore the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) ability to determine whether toll hikes are fair to drivers and to give the Department authority to prescribe more reasonable tolls.

The lawmakers cite the recent toll hikes, lack of accountability and fiscal mismanagement at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as the reason for the legislation.

"While the Port Authority and the two states are struggling to explain why these dramatic hikes were imposed, commuters are suffering," explains Lautenberg. "There's a clear need for federal oversight here to make sure toll revenue is being used appropriately and not going to fund excessive salaries or political patronage jobs. Given these out of control toll hikes and the cloud of misinformation surrounding them, these federal protections for commuters need to be restored."  

The Commuter Protection Act would restore USDOT's ability to determine whether tolls on bridges and tunnels imposed by toll authorities are "just and reasonable." Up until 1987, USDOT had the authority to determine whether any tolls charged to drivers were "just and reasonable" upon a complaint. Under the legislation, if the tolls were deemed unfair, the Secretary could prescribe a more reasonable maximum toll that could be charged.