Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lowering Tolls = Cutting Transit?

The Maryland toll authority under the Secretary of Transportation just approved a significant reduction of  bridge and tunnel tolls in Maryland.

This represents a tilt towards support for car traffic over investment in transit and a curious reduction of available funds for transportation in a region with very high unmet transportation needs. However, toll facilities are accounted separately and experts assure that the toll decision would not affect the liquidity of the transportation trust fund.

The decision seems to be more based on placating the Governor's voting base than on planning a healthy future for the region. 

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

updated 5/11/15

Maryland cuts toll rates at Chesapeake Bay Bridge, ICC
BBJ article

Here's what the changes will do: (From the BBJ):
  • Eliminate the E-ZPass Maryland monthly $1.50 account fee for Maryland residents.
  • Reduce all toll rates at the Bay Bridge, including a reduction in the two-axle cash rate from $6 to $4 round trip and in the commuter rate from $2.10 to $1.40.
  • Increase the E-ZPass Maryland discount from 10 percent to 37.5 percent at the Bay Bridge. Toll drops from $5.40 to $2.50 round trip.
  • Increase the E-ZPass Maryland discount from 10 percent to 25 percent for the Baltimore Harbor (I-895) and Fort McHenry (I-95) tunnels, the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695), the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge (US 40) and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95).
  • Reduce two-axle toll rates on the ICC/MD200 and I-95 Express Toll Lanes for all pricing periods by $.03 per mile. The change reduces a two-axle, peak period trip from I-270/I-370 to US 1 on the ICC from $4.40 to $3.86 (E-ZPass), and a two-axle, peak period trip on the I-95 Express Toll Lanes from $1.75 to $1.54 (E-ZPass). Other ICC and I-95 Express Toll Rates also will be reduced based on standard multipliers per axle.
  • Establish a 30 percent discount at the Hatem Bridge for three- and four-axle vehicles with E-ZPass Maryland - three-axle toll drops from $16 to $11.20, while four-axle toll drops from $24 to $16.80.
  • Increase E-ZPass Maryland supplemental rebate program for vehicles with five or more axles by 5 percentage points per trip level.

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