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Demanding Answers: Gov. Murphy Vows To Speak With Port Authority About Plan To Scrap Carpool Discount

FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – CBS2 is continuing to demand answers about the Port Authority's plans to cancel the carpool discount at the Hudson River crossings.

Gov. Murphy told CBS2 earlier this month he was open to keeping it, but then the Port Authority claimed it wasn't safe or feasible. So what now?

"Any idea… when you'll be able to talk to Rick Cotton about it?" CBS2's Andrea Grymes asked New Jersey's governor.

"I will make sure someone guys, at least whether it's me or someone from our team will have a conversation on carpool within the next 24 hours," Murphy said.

It's a promise from Gov. Murphy – to talk with Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton about the agency's controversial plans to cancel the discount at the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln, and Holland tunnels.

MORE: Port Authority: We Care About The Environment, But Still Taking Away The Carpool Discount, Hiking Fares

The discount is a little known, but beloved, perk that CBS2 has been telling more commuters about.

If you have three or more people in a car and sign up ahead of time, you pay only $6.50. That's about half the standard toll prices – and is then usually split among the riders, making commuting finally affordable.

port authority carpool
(Credit: CBS2)

The agency argues, in part, the program won't work with upcoming cashless tolling.

Gov. Murphy partially controls the Port Authority, so last week CBS2 asked him about discontinuing the discount.

"Count me on the side of carpool, so that's something we gotta look at," Murphy declared.

Since then, CBS2 has tried following up to see if the governor would push the Port Authority to change its mind – as the agency also plans to hike fares by as much as 10 percent.

On Wednesday, both Murphy and Cotton were at an unrelated event at Newark Airport.

The governor unexpectedly had to leave early and told CBS2 he didn't have a chance to talk to Cotton about the discount.

"I have not and that's something I do want to do," Murphy claimed.

"For whatever way we can do it, the fewer cars we have crossing the Hudson the better, at so many levels, the environment, congestion."

phil murphy
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (Credit: CBS2)

"The Port Authority has told us we can't make this work at this point in time, but you're firmly on the side of we should find a way to make it work?" Grymes asked Murphy.

"Listen, I think we should but I have to say I have enormous regard for Rick and his team," Murphy added.

The Port Authority argues the green initiative will not be feasible. They claim that with no toll booths, there's no way to verify how many people are in a car.

"There's no real way to enforce or administer a carpool program, but we've heard the governor. We'll continue to look at it and as technology develops, we would be eager to try to revisit the issue but for now we just don't believe it's practical," Cotton said.

Cotton added they cannot keep one lane manned because of traffic and safety reasons. As for the usage of the carpool discount – which the Port Authority has never promote – Cotton has told CBS2 only three percent of cars use the carpool discount.

AAA notes that's still about 8,000 cars per day, which also equals less toll revenue for the Port Authority.

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