Date: Mar 14, 2001
Press Release Number: 33-2001
A new toll structure that will take effect March 25 at the Port Authority\'s bridges and tunnels is expected to result in a dramatic increase in E-ZPass use due to deep discounts offered to those who use the electronic toll collection system.
The Port Authority projects at least a 15-percent increase in E-ZPass use by all of its bridge and tunnel customers by the end of this year. The E-ZPass increases are expected to be even more dramatic at some facilities, including the Outerbridge Crossing, Bayonne Bridge, and George Washington Bridge. The Port Authority also operates the Goethals Bridge, and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.
Under the new pricing plan, the cash toll at all crossings will be $6. Customers driving automobiles who use E-ZPass will pay $5 during peak periods and $4 off-peak.
\"Increasing E-ZPass use at all of our crossings is a critical component of our new congestion pricing approach at the bridges and tunnels,\" said Ken Philmus, the Port Authority\'s Director of Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals. \"An E-ZPass lane allows us to process approximately 1,000 vehicles per hour, compared to 300 transactions at a staffed lane, which helps congestion by expediting traffic flow.
\"More importantly, as the E-ZPass market share grows, we will be far more creative in the way in which we configure toll plazas and roadway approaches. Where possible, we plan to eliminate toll barriers in E-ZPass lanes when enough motorists are using E-ZPass, allowing free-flowing toll payments and less merging after the toll plaza. We will also be looking to dedicate certain approach lanes for E-ZPass users to ensure that the benefits of free-flow toll lanes are extended far beyond the bridges and tunnels,\" Mr. Philmus said.
\"We are trying to spread the word that the E-ZPass discounts contained in the new toll structure will allow travelers to save time as well as money,\" Mr. Philmus said.
In addition to a rise in automobile E-ZPass use, the Port Authority also projects that more truckers will switch to electronic toll collection and change the time of day that they travel. Currently, more than half of truck customers use E-ZPass, and that is also expected to increase by at least 15 percent by the end of this year.
Truckers with E-ZPass will pay a $5 toll per axle toll if they use the crossings during off-peak periods, and $3.50 per axle if they travel during the weekday overnight hours from midnight to 6 a.m. This represents a decrease from the $3.60 rate that is currently in place. The Port Authority hopes that the deep discount will encourage the movement of trucks in the overnight period, in the 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. hour specifically.
The Port Authority opened its first E-ZPass lanes at the Bayonne Bridge on June 29, 1997. Electronic toll collection lanes open at all crossings by the end of that year.
In January 1998, approximately 38 percent of Port Authority customers used E-ZPass. The level of customers using E-ZPass rose to 44 percent in January 1999, to 52 percent in January 2000, and to 59 percent in January 2001. Since the Port Authority first offered E-ZPass to its customers, it has opened 347,448 accounts.