FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey lawmaker is pushing back against a Port Authority plan to do away with a carpool discount at the George Washington Bridge and Holland and Lincoln tunnels.
He says getting rid of the plan would cost drivers thousands of dollars, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.
Baker was on hand on Lemoine Avenue on Monday when Congressman Josh Gottheimer announced that he would be fighting the Authority’s plan to cancel the carpool discount.
At the entrance to the GWB, dozens of people line up every morning to carpool by jumping in strangers’ cars. It’s a win-win for both parties — the carpoolers usually get a free ride and the drivers get half off at the toll.
But the Port Authority has said it wants to cancel the discount.
Gottheimer said the Port Authority’s plan doesn’t make any sense.
“Eliminating carpool lane will cost many New Jersey residents thousands of dollars a year in new tolls, add a ton of new cars on to the bridge and increase air pollution. That’s a lose-lose-lose for absolutely everyone.”
The Port Authority said the carpool lanes will not work with cashless tolling because camera technology cannot tell how many people are actually in a vehicle.
“However, the technology exists and is actually being used right now in California, Massachusetts and Georgia,” Gottheimer said.
Port Authority chief Rick Cotton has already argued that only 3% of commuters use the discount. Local leaders said that’s because the green initiative has not been promoted.
“It’s very hard to figure out how to sign up to use the carpool lanes. We’ve not done much to actually promote them. That’s a big complaint that I’ve gotten from a lot of constituents, so what I would say is let’s not only keep the carpool lanes, but let’s actually let people know about the carpool lanes. Let’s get more people to use the carpool lanes. Let’s make it easier for people to use the lanes,” Gottheimer said.
Gov. Phil Murphy has said he is on the side of commuters and would talk to the Port Authority about keeping the discount, but he has yet to do so. He reiterated Monday that he supports initiatives to take cars off the Hudson River crossings.