[UPDATE] The Port Authority Apologizes For Any Inconvenience But That Is [NOT] All

[UPDATE] After posting this, I received a call from the manager of the Port Authority.
The update appears below the post

Last month, I was frustrated by the fact that carpools are limited to “Cash-Only” lanes at PA bridges and tunnels and I fired off a tweet to the Port Authority and my elected reps.  Shortly after, I got a letter from Diannae C. Ehler, Director of the Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals at the Port Authority, who is responsible for operations and maintenance at the PA.

If you are tasked with making sure that people can efficiently move between NYC and NJ, there are several things you want to do.  Among them is to

  1.  Reduce the number of cars on the road and
  2. Have the remaining cars move as quickly as possible.


The Port Authority has an incentive program, for people that wish to carpool (with 3 or more people) whereby they pay reduced rates to go over the GWB or Lincoln Tunnel:

When three people carpool, you remove two cars from the road and the benefits become clear.

But there’s a problem with this incentive:

“Customers must use a staffed “Cash/E-ZPass” lane and come to a complete stop so that the Toll Collector can verify the number of occupants in the vehicle.”

When you have to use cash lanes, which are notoriously long and slow, it defeats the point of zipping through in your incentivized carpool.

Even the MTA (not particularly known for it’s exceptional customer service qualifications), has managed to figure out how to use EZ-Pass lanes for their carpooling customers.  You can even mail in a request for your HOV EZ-Pass tags.

So why can’t you do this at the Port Authority, Diannae?

Like many things the PA does, the situation just gets worse.

The PA takes the few cash lanes they have – and then shuts them down periodically, for breaks.

As if it’s not bad enough to have to sit in a long line of cash paying customers, just to get the “incentive rate meant to keep fewer cars on the road”, they then shut down those lanes during times of peak demand.

I tagged the Port Authority on Twitter with pics of this insanity back on November 20th.

I was assured that they shared my tweet with the management team.

I was giddy with anticipation.  Finally, someone in charge would see that the incentive structure was failing because they forced people to wait on long lines, which they periodically close down.  They would fix the problem.  It was only a matter of time.

Then I tagged them again, when it happened on November 29th.

But when I tagged them on December 5th, I also tagged my State representatives.

That seemed to get someone’s attention.  And what followed?  An explanation about how they will work to help commuters by switching to an EZ-Pass based system, to truly incentivize fewer cars on the road?

No, not quite.

I got an apology for my frustration (see the letter below).

I called Diannae C. Ehler, whose signature is on the letter, but I haven’t heard back from her office.


Bottom line – residents shouldn’t have to sit in traffic, at closed cash only lanes, when there are better alternatives available.  This week, I’m asking the Township Council to call on the Port Authority to ACTUALLY incentivize drivers to carpool and start accepting carpools in ALL lanes.

You can find a copy of the resolution I’m putting forth here on the Township Website.


After posting this, I was contacted by Ken Sagrestano, the General Manager for the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station at the Port Authority. 

We had a good chat and as a result of raising this issue, they have changed work breaks, so that multiple lanes are no longer down at the same time.

He will also be looking into options for EZ-Pass use for carpools (as the MTA does).

Resolution passed by Township of Teaneck:

Resolution re PA Carpools

Letter received from PA:

2019-01-10_Letter from Diannae Ehler re Toll Booths & carpools

2 Replies to “[UPDATE] The Port Authority Apologizes For Any Inconvenience But That Is [NOT] All”

  1. As much as I love the carpool discount, I hate all of the traffic at the toll plaza for the GWB, and it appears that the Port Authority agrees that the societal benefits of not stopping at toll booths exceeds that of the carpool program. The agency will be eliminating the carpool option in its entirety as it implements cashless tolls, starting this year at the Outerbridge and Goethals, as described in the attached article.

    “The implementation of cashless tolling at the Goethals Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing is expected to save drivers approximately 200,000 hours a year, reduce crashes by 7 to 10 percent and reduce emissions from idling traffic by 11,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to the Port Authority. The Port Authority Board also approved a discontinuation of the Port Authority Carpool Plan at the two crossings due to the practical infeasibility of continuing the plan in a cashless tolling environment.”

    1. I see no reason they can’t keep a system like the MTA has for HOV EZ-Pass customers, with a cashless system.

      While the article describes some issues with enforcement when the cameras can’t see a third passenger, these aren’t insurmountable challenges and the benefits are great when it comes to cutting vehicles from already congested bridges and tunnels.

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