Getting to New York City from New Jersey can be a hassle, especially for tourists who are getting around by car. Although public transportation is a viable option for anyone traveling around the tri-state area, a car can provide people with more flexibility. However, driving from the Garden State to the Empire State can come at a significant cost due to all the tolls. New Jersey is connected to New York City via a network of bridges, tunnels and roads. While this is a great convenience for both locals and visitors to the area, the rising cost of tolls has made driving a less-desirable option. Also, navigating the toll roads in itself is a complicated task on its own, not to mention the need for an E-ZPass to speed up the traffic waiting times.

Tolls Are Not Completely Avoidable

Manhattan is an island, and unfortunately, there is absolutely no way to avoid paying at least one toll to drive into it. Even roads that don’t have tolls in other areas will still have one prior to entering or exiting a bridge or tunnel. Drivers can still try and save a buck or two by taking alternate routes to avoid multiple tolls.

Bridges and Tunnels

Unless travelers plan on sailing across the Hudson – the ferry is a possibility – they are going to have to take either a bridge or a tunnel to get from New Jersey into New York City. Three main bridges and tunnels go from New Jersey into New York City:

  • George Washington Bridge
  • Holland Tunnel
  • Lincoln Tunnel

Another option is to go to Staten Island, which involves taking the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and then the Goethals Bridge. However, this route passes through at least two tolls. There is one toll to get off New Jersey onto Staten Island, and another one to get off Staten Island into New York City. It’s best to avoid this route altogether.

Tolls Roads

Three main roads lead into these bridges and tunnels:

  • New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate 95)
  • Garden State Parkway
  • U.S. Route 1/9

The New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway have more tolls than any of the other roads, in addition to the ones drivers must pay upon going onto a bridge or tunnel. Remember, at least one toll must be paid to get into New York City.

How to Avoid the Most Tolls

By taking U.S. Route 1/9, budget-minded travelers can travel from New Jersey into New York City and avoid a majority of the tolls in this area. Not only that, but they'll be spoiled with an excellent view of the city.

Beginning in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, U.S. Route 1/9 runs up through Elizabeth and veers into Newark right before entering Jersey City. Once there, drivers pass through Union City all the way up toward Fort Lee. At this point, the one toll must be paid. The road then merges quickly onto I-95 and crosses the Hudson River via the George Washington Bridge, leading right into New York City.

There are several ways to get to U.S. 1/9, either via an intersection at Interstate 78, Interstates 95/278 or U.S. Route 80. Depending on where you enter these roads, you might also have to pay a toll, though it still won't be as many as taking the Garden State Parkway or New Jersey Turnpike all the way through.

Other Options

Union City, New Jersey, offers a great alternative solution for travelers trying to avoid the tolls. Park the car in one of the parking garages for the day and take a minibus that gets you into the city for just a few bucks.

Trains and buses are great alternatives for travelers who don't want to rent a car. New Jersey has great public transportation offering many ways to get into New York City, without the hassle of tolls.