Summer 2001, p.12

Port Authority's congestion pricing is working

Only two months into the country's largest attempt at smart toll pricing, and the Port Authority's river crossings are succeeding at diverting rush hour traffic to less busy times. Steep E-ZPass discounts offered to drivers using the Port's Hudson River crossings between midnight and 6 am has shifted motorists to cross during these less congested times. The Port Authority tallied 7 percent fewer motorists using its six crossings - the Goethals, Bayonne and George Washington bridges, the Outerbridge Crossing and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels - during the congested 6 am to 9 am rush hours. It has also measured a corresponding 7 percent rise in early morning use, mostly coming in the hour before 6 am.

For truckers the economic carrot is obvious. By crossing overnight they pay per axle costs of $3.50, compared to $6 at peak times, and $5 during afternoon and evening off-peak times. Cars pay $4 each during all off-peak hours, $1 less than during peak hours. All discounts require the use of E-ZPass electronic toll collection. The biggest and most under publicized boon goes to carpoolers who pay $1 tolls at all times. The Port Authority reports that registered carpools are up 21 percent in the last 8 months. While these changes are good, rush hour commuters will continue to feel the pinch of hopeless backups until the Port Authority pushes for steeper rush-hour tolls and larger discounts.

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