AN E-ZPASS DISCOUNT for commuters along the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike would go a long way to ease the burden of last year’s gasoline tax increase, said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari.
Vicari sent a letter to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which oversees both highways, suggesting that E-ZPass offer a discount to private vehicles that travel a minimum number of miles on either roadway.
“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 Chairman Richard Hammer. “Ocean County also has more Parkway miles than any other county in the state.”
Last year’s 23-cent gasoline tax increase also had an unfair impact on local drivers, who travel farther than most other commuters to reach their workplaces, Vicari said.
“The lack of a public transportation network similar to the one that blankets the northern counties also forces our residents to rely on their vehicles.” he said.
Vicari said the discount would apply only to private, noncommercial vehicles.
“We’re focusing on the commuters who pay out of their pocket every day to support their families,” he said.
Vicari said the amount of the discount and details about how many miles would need to be traveled before it takes effect can 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.
Vicari was a staunch opponent of the gasoline tax increase because of the unjust impact it has on Ocean County commuters.
He also petitioned the state Legislature to institute an income tax credit for drivers who travel a certain distance to and from work each year.
“More than 82 percent of our commuters rely on their vehicles to reach work,” he said. “According to the census, only 2 percent use mass transportation.”
Vicari said whether it be a tax credit or toll discount, the state must do more to help commuters who drive to work.
“The county can’t do it alone,” he said. “I will continue to petition state officials until our residents receive the help they need.”