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NY/NJ Port Authority on right track

  26.09.2012    

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has begun implementing changes to "rid itself of years of inefficiency," but still faces "enormous" challenges over the next decade, according to independent consultants' report by Navigant Consulting and Rothschild Inc.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie directed the port authority to undertake a full and independent audit of its operations and finances after an uproar over large toll increases on the agency's bridges and tunnels.
In a joint statement, the two governors said the two studies showed "the port authority is finally on the right track, and the necessary reforms put into place by the agency's leadership are beginning to deliver results, just as we demanded."
Navigant said in its 185-page report that planned increases in bridge and tunnel tolls scheduled to go into effect over the next three years and other non-fare revenue enhancements and cost reductions will be needed to fund its preliminary capital plan through 2020 and keep transportation infrastructure in good repair.
It warned that without toll increases, the bi-state agency would have to reduce its capital plan by nearly US$6 billion, and projects would have to be deferred, delayed, or cancelled, American Shipper reported.
Navigant noted over the past five years, the agency's aviation department, which operates five airports in the region, "has been the only positive free cash flow contributor to the port authority but now has some of the largest upcoming capital expenditure needs." In addition, the authority's department, which operates its tunnels, bridges, bus terminals, ferries, and PATH also does not have sufficient operating cash flow to cover capital expenditure needs.
Navigant said while the agency has sufficient capacity for its current capital plan through 2020, including the World Trade Centre costs, under the "downside" scenario of a soft economic environment and reduced volumes, the agency might have a capital capacity shortfall.
"In either case, however, even with the toll increases enacted, the port authority will require careful prioritising of spending, and implementation of the identified performance improvement initiatives, to ensure the region's infrastructure needs are met."


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