JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Port Authority previously said it was going to cancel the carpool discount at the Hudson River crossings, but after several CBS2 stories and push-back from local leaders it is revising that decision.
The discount gets you half off at the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and George Washington Bridge. The Port Authority said the discount has to go when cashless tolling arrives, claiming technology doesn’t exist to monitor how many people are in each car.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“The technology exists and is actually being used right now in California, Massachusetts and Georgia,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer said.
Following multiple CBS2 reports and criticism from local leaders, the Port Authority decided to keep the discount temporarily and as of Thursday will in fact look into technology that works.
“If it in fact pans out to be real, and something we can rely upon, we will take it seriously,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said.
Port Authority officials said the tunnels and bridges saw record numbers in 2019. Others said if the carpool discount was promoted it could relieve some of that traffic.
Also, the Port Authority chairman would not directly answer Baker when asked about whether the agency would finally start promoting awareness of the carpool program. However, he did contradict Executive Director Rick Cotton who previously said few people carpool.
“Carpooling is actually fairly well used. I mean, it’s what, 3% of the folks use it. I think people do notice and actually by moving this, moving the goal posts here, it is going to cost us about $17 million, so there is an impact to this. So, I think it is prominent,” O’Toole said.
“It’s green. It’s great for the environment. It’s great for Manhattan to stop all the congestion,” added Carol Cooper of Closter.
The Port Authority is hoping to eliminate manned toll booths by 2021, giving the agency a year to find a way to save the carpool discount, if it wants to.
Congressman Gottheimer said eliminating the carpool lane would cost New Jersey residents thousands of extra dollars a year in new tolls, add more cars to the bridges and tunnels and increase air pollution.