A hearing starts today to decide if bridge tolls will be going up early next year.

Halifax Harbour Bridges (HHB) has a public hearing scheduled at the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board beginning today. They want to raise the tolls from 75 cents to $1 for motorists paying cash, and from 60 cents to 80 cents for MacPass users.

If the application is approved by the URAB, the new prices would take effect Feb. 1.

The increase will pay for redecking the MacDonald Bridge in 2014-16, which will cost at least $137 million. Steve Snider, HHB general manager and CEO, said they don’t want to borrow any more money to do it, and raising tolls makes more sense.

“We don’t think we should borrow that much money,” he said. “We haven’t had a toll increase for automobiles since 1992 and we don’t think it’s fiscally responsible for us to continue borrowing more money.”

The commission currently owes $54 million which would balloon to $190 million if they borrowed to pay for the redecking, according to Snider.

The toll increase has nothing to do with encouraging people to get on the bus. A study released last week showed tolls would need to increase by 1,000 per cent during peak hours in order to make an impact. That’s $6 a crossing.