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Commuter credit proposed for Delaware River Port Authority bridge users
CAMDEN, N.J.- The Finance Committee of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) voted Wednesday to recommend a commuter credit for frequent users of the Authority’s four bridges. The proposal, which will go before the full Board of Commissioners at its July 15 meeting for final approval, will provide NJ E-ZPass account holders an $18 monthly account credit after making 18 or more round-trip crossings during a calendar month. The commuter credit would apply only to non-commercial passenger vehicles, including motorcycles and small trucks that are 7,000 lbs. and less. Enrollment for the commuter credit would be automatic and the credit will appear on the following month’s E-ZPass statement. DRPA is a member of the NJ E-ZPass electronic toll collection group. Residents of all states may open an account with NJ E-ZPass.
Approximately 30,000 E-ZPass customers use the DRPA bridges (the Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross, and Commodore Barry) 18 or more times per month, and would reduce toll revenues by approximately $6.4 million per year, but DRPA Chief Financial Officer James M. White is confident that the Authority can afford to offer the credit to commuters based on the Authority’s financial performance, while using bond project and general monies to fund the current five year 2015 Capital Program.
Based on current and projected figures including the proposed credit, White anticipates that it will not be necessary to raise the current toll rates for at least three years.
If the plan is approved at the July 15 meeting of the full board, the commuter credit could be in place before the end of the year. It is expected that it will take approximately three months in programming in order to implement.
In addition to the proposed commuter credit, the DRPA offers a senior citizen discount. Senior drivers 65 or older enrolled in that program currently pay one-half of the passenger vehicle toll and will not be eligible for the proposed commuter credit.
The DRPA previously offered a commuter credit but it was discontinued on June 30, 2011, the last time the Authority raised its tolls.
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