FORT LEE, NJ (Bergen County) – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced plans, along with fellow New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), to urge the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) to reverse course on its proposal to eliminate the carpool toll discount on the George Washington Bridge (GWB) starting in January 2020.
The Port Authority has stated carpool rates have to be eliminated due to new cashless tolling camera technology, which will not be able to capture how many people are actually in a vehicle. However, the technology exists and is being used right now in California, Georgia, and Massachusetts. Gottheimer and Pascrell released a letter Monday to the Port Authority Chairman kindly requesting they 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.
Every day, 289,000 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.
Furthermore, eliminating the carpool discount will cost New Jersey carpool drivers an additional $2,125 a year in new tolls, Gottheimer said.
“In 2019, with traffic nearly unbearable, we shouldn’t be undoing a policy that encourages fewer cars on the roads – and helps our environment. Eliminating the carpool rate will cost New Jersey residents 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. It just doesn’t make any sense to me, and I hope Port Authority will reconsider their decision,” Gottheimer said.
“These incentives help reduce traffic and air pollution for everyone. People are going to be paying more to be stuck in traffic longer and will end up breathing in more pollution. Getting rid of this program makes absolutely no sense because New Jersey has some of the worst air quality in the nation. This is an important issue for commuters and for people who care about clean air. We want to thank Congressman Gottheimer for standing up to The Port Authority. Most counties in New Jersey received an ‘F’ from the American Lung Association, and getting rid of incentives for carpooling means more traffic and more air pollution. We should be expanding carpool incentives instead of taking them away,” Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club Jeff Tittel said.