Report Recommends Toll Hikes on Atlantic City Expressway

It currently costs $3.75 to travel the length of the Atlantic City Expressway. A ratings firm recommended a 50 percent increase by 2019.

Atlantic City Expressway

Photo | Dan McQuade

A New York ratings firm has recommended that you pay more to drive to Atlantic City.

Fitch Ratings, one of the big three national credit ratings agencies, recommended the South Jersey Transportation Authority hike tolls in a report.

“The authority has historically demonstrated willingness to raise rates when debt service coverage has declined or prior to the development of a large capital program,” Fitch wrote in its report. “Willingness to raise rates will be critical in the next five years, given any necessary maintenance work and an increasing debt service profile.”

The average toll on the Expressway is $1.47, per Fitch. The cost to travel the length of the expressway is currently $3.75. (The Black Horse Pike travels along a similar path; it has stop lights but occasionally has less traffic.) Tolls last went up 50% in November 2008. Before, it cost $2.50 to drive the length.

It could have been more. Jon Corzine proposed sweeping fare hikes in early 2008, saying the state should raise rolls 50% every four years.

Expressway tolls in part subsidize the Atlantic City Airport, and Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small proposed last year that tolls should be raised in order to prevent looming tax hikes in the casino city.

“The average toll of $1.47 for the expressway is reasonable, which offers the authority flexibility to raise tolls,” the report said. The SJTA told The Press of Atlantic City there are no toll hikes in the 2016 budget. Fitch says tolls will eventually need to be raised in order to cover debt service and road maintenance. It says a 50 percent increase will be necessary in 2019.