"We should immediately look to explore a commuter discount," said Vice Chairman Jeffrey Nash, but he cautioned that traffic studies might be necessary and that any break should be fair to both Pennsylvania and New Jersey drivers.
Many other bridge and highway toll agencies give discounts to commuters, E-ZPass users, or both. The DRPA once gave discounts to E-ZPass users, commuters, drivers of fuel-efficient vehicles, and senior citizens.
Now, the only discount is 50 percent off for senior citizens who use a New Jersey-issued E-ZPass and provide proof of age.
Instead of getting a discount, E-ZPass users now pay more: $12 a year for a New Jersey-issued transponder and $3 a year for a Pennsylvania Turnpike-issued transponder.
"For working families . . . this is a point of contention," said Latko. "They're looking for something back."
Latko suggested using money from a $1 million loan repayment to offset revenue losses caused by a commuter discount. The DRPA hopes to collect $1 million this year from a loan it made in 2001 to prospective developers of the Blue Horizon, a now-shuttered boxing venue on North Broad Street.
DRPA officials said that would only provide a one-time infusion of cash, not enough to offset a continuing discount program.
Other area toll agencies that provide discounts include the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge; the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which operates the I-78 bridge over the Delaware, among others; the Pennsylvania Turnpike; the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the turnpike and the Garden State Parkway; and the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the Atlantic City Expressway.
Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or firstname.lastname@example.org