Ocean County , NJ - It is clear that the Garden State Parkway serves as the main road for visitors, and residents; it is a daily routine for thousands of commuters that work in and around Southern Ocean County. With motorists facing new increases to both the Garden State Parkway and NJ Turnpike ; as well as increased gasoline tax hike Freeholder Director Joseph Vicari is renewing his call for an EZ Pass discount for Ocean County drivers.
“Ocean County is home to more than 90,000 commuters who travel outside of the county to go to work. The vast majority of these men and women use the Garden State Parkway,” Vicari said in the letter to Authority Chairwoman Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “Ocean County also has more Parkway miles than any other county in the state.” Parkway tolls jumped 27 percent on September 13, while Turnpike tolls increased by 36 percent. Drivers on the Atlantic City Expressway saw a 37 percent hike. “Hiking these tolls in the middle of a pandemic that has already devastated our economy is unacceptable,” Vicari said. “To make matters worse we are facing a 9 percent gas tax hike set to take effect on October 1.” The has already contacted Gov. Phil Murphy asking that he suspend the gas tax increase. He also stated these rising travel costs are especially unfair in Ocean County, where commuters are forced to rely on their own vehicles to travel to work.
“Our commuters don’t have a choice,” he said. “Ocean County doesn’t benefit from the same extensive bus and train public transportation networks that blanket the northern counties. Our residents have to pay these rising toll and gasoline costs if they want to provide for their families.” According to the federal census statistics that show more than 82 percent of local commuters use their own private vehicle, with only 2 percent rely of public transportation. The requested E-Z Pass discount would apply only to private, noncommercial vehicles that travel at least a minimum distance on the toll roads.
Freeholder Vicari stated in a recent press release that the discount amount and details about how many miles would need to be traveled before it takes effect could be worked out by the Turnpike Authority. “The important thing right now is for the Authority to take this under serious consideration so people will know efforts are being made to help,” he said. A similar frequent user discount is already in place on the Atlantic City Expressway, which is operated by the South Jersey Transportation Authority, not the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.