NOTE: This story was updated with the Port Authority’s detailed statement on Dec. 11 at 1:37 p.m.
FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Back in October, CBS2 demanded answers from the Port Authority about why it planned to cancel the carpool discount.
On Tuesday, sources confirmed exclusively that our reporting got action, as the agency has changed its tune, at least for the time being, Meg Baker reported.
Commuters near the George Washington Bridge were queued up to carpool into New York City. The practice is a win-win. Drivers get half off at the GWB and Holland and Lincoln tunnels, and passengers often pay nothing for the ride.
But recently, the Port Authority announced it was canceling the discount, much to the dismay of commuters like Carol Cooper of Closter, N.J.
“It’s green. It’s great for environment,” Cooper said.
Now, it appears the Port Authority plans to delay implementing its ban, telling CBS2 in a statement:
“The Port Authority believes, for safety, efficiency, and environmental reasons, transitioning to cashless tolling will have a positive impact on our customers, our facilities, and the region. But we’re also listening when our customers speak up. That’s why this week we are bringing before our board a proposal to phase out the carpool discount at the Hudson River crossings only as each facility actually implements cashless, all-electronic tolling
“Our approach will maintain the carpool toll discount program at each Port Authority toll plaza, until such time as those plazas no longer accept cash payments, and toll takers are removed from the toll plazas. As such, the Carpool Discount program will remain available at the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the George Washington Bridge until the time of implementation of cashless tolling at those crossings, anticipated in late 2020 or early 2021. We appreciate the input of all motorists, commuters and elected officials.
“As previously noted, it is operationally incompatible to offer a carpool discount without toll booth operators to see how many passengers are in a car. Based on current information available to the Port Authority, there is no broadly accepted technology that can accurately and reliably count occupancy in a cashless tolling system.”
Congressman Josh Gottheimer has taken exception to the last part of the Port Authority’s statement.
“Technology exists and is actually being used right now in California, Massachusetts and Georgia,” Gottheimer said last week.
Commuters are holding out hope the Port Authority will make the delay permanent.
“It works for everybody,” Cooper said of the carpool discount. “I’ve picked up students that are jumping in that don’t have to take cars and look for parking and pay for parking.”