News Department

Gottheimer fights back against port authority’s new ‘carpool crushing tax’

Costs New Jersey carpool drivers an additional $2,375 a year in new tolls — $9.50 a day

NORTH JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Thursday slammed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for its plan to eliminate the George Washington Bridge carpool discount next month, creating a new Port Authority “Carpool Crushing Tax” hitting hard-working middle class families — costing New Jersey carpool drivers an additional $2,375 a year in new tolls, or $9.50 a day.

“The Port Authority’s new ‘Carpool Crushing Tax’ crushes commuters and kills the environment. Eliminating the carpool discount will cost many New Jersey commuters thousands of dollars a year in new tolls, add a ton of new cars onto the bridge, and create more air pollution. That’s a lose-lose-lose for absolutely everyone. Cashless is good, but carpool-less is bad. It doesn’t make any sense to me, and it’s ridiculous that the Port Authority is trying to saddle hard-working commuters with new tolls right now, especially at a time when we’re trying to make life more affordable,” Gottheimer said. “The Port Authority has said that carpool rates won’t work with new cashless tolling, because their camera technology can’t easily determine how many people are actually in a vehicle. However, the technology exists and multiple other states are using similar technology right now. We must find solutions to preserve the lower carpool tolls, keep congestion down, and reduce emissions.”

Every day, tens of thousands of people drive in and out of Manhattan over the George Washington Bridge from Bergen County and from all over New Jersey. Without the incentive for drivers to carpool, this will bring more cars to our roads, increasing traffic, making commute times worse, and increasing emissions into the environment, Gottheimer said.

New cashless system eliminates human toll collectors who check carpools, and the Port Authority claims the technology cannot accurately capture how many people are actually in a vehicle. However, the technology exists, and is being used or tested to track carpool lanes in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, TennesseeVirginia, Texas, and Utah. For example, Xerox has deployed vehicle passenger detection technology with a 95% accuracy rate, compared to 36% for humans, Gottheimer said.

Gottheimer had previously urged the Port Authority to reverse its decision to eliminate the carpool discount. Citing factors including the increased cost to commuters, longer traffic times, and higher pollution rates, Gottheimer requested that the Port Authority explore all available technology to allow for carpool rates to remain intact with cashless tolling and to pause plans to eliminate the current carpool rate until a suitable solution for commuters can be implemented.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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