You need three people -- not a hybrid or electric car -- to get this toll discount

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.


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.

A bigger break

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.

E-ZPass in many states

The Port Authority Web site's E-ZPass page lists many states that issue the same or similar tags for paying tolls, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Main and New Hampshire.

If you own a hybrid or green car in those states, check with your agency to see if you qualify for special toll discounts.


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