|The driver of a Toyota Prius hybrid, below, still hasn't gotten the word about the Port Authority Green Pass toll discounts available to drivers of green cars. His E-ZPass, above, is white, the kind available to all drivers.|
|The sticker on the left says, "You just got passed by a hybrid." I don't know the meaning of the sticker on the right.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates in mysterious ways.
The bistate agency offers off-peak toll discounts to drivers of hybrid and all-electric cars as long as they obtain a special green-colored E-ZPass, called a Green Pass.
The New York State E-ZPass agency does the same, but doesn't honor Green Passes obtained from New Jersey.
But the Port Authority offers an even bigger toll discount valid 24/7 at all agency crossings -- not just during the restrictive off-peak hours -- and you don't need a green car to get it.
What you do need is a private E-ZPass account and a "carpool" -- defined as three occupants.
If you have a driver and passenger in the front seats,
a dummy or dead body in the back might do.
And there are hoops to jump through:
You have to enroll your E-ZPass first, then come to a complete stop in a staffed cash/E-ZPass lane so that the toll collector can verify the number of occupants in the vehicle.
I usually say, "Carpool discount," and receive an acknowledgement.
The carpool toll is only $5 -- an E-ZPass discount of $4 or $6 all day long, weekdays and weekends -- but it's not available to commercial vehicles or fleets.
The Green Pass off-peak toll is $5.50.
Both plans are largely unpublicized.
For E-ZPass holders, the toll during peak hours is $11 (6 a.m.-10 a.m., 4 p.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday and Sundays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.).
At other times, the off-peak E-ZPass toll is $9. The cash toll at all times is $13.
All Port Authority tolls are set to go up again this December and in December 2015, if a court challenge is unsuccessful.