Trucks not included in proposed Maryland toll relief package
July 26, 2019
The Maryland Transportation Authority voted to move forward with the governor’s proposal of a toll relief program worth more than $28 million over five years. Truckers, however, will likely not see a dime of that savings.
On Thursday, July 25, MDTA voted to seek public comments and hold hearings on a toll relief package proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan last week. As currently proposed, toll users could save more than $28 million over five years.
The proposed relief program entails three different savings mechanisms:
- Pay By Plate system.
- New vehicle classes with lower rates.
- Discount for early payment of video tolls.
Already used in other states, the Pay By Plate system will be new in Maryland. The new payment system will allow tolls to be automatically billed to credit cards at the same rate that cash customers pay today, according to MDTA. Customers who use this method at the all-electronic Intercounty Connector/MD 200 and Interstate 95 express toll lanes will pay 20% less than the video toll rate. Pay By Plate is scheduled to become available by June 2020.
With new vehicle classes to go into effect by September 2020, toll rates for motorcycles will be reduced by 50%. Rates for light vehicles towing one- and two-axle trailers will lower anywhere from 17% to 25%. The proposed program makes no mention of toll relief for heavier vehicles.
Customers who pay tolls before their invoices are mailed via video tolling will receive a 15% discount. This program is expected to begin by December 2020.
MDTA will begin the public comment period on Aug. 1. From that point forward, customers can visit mdta.maryland.gov to submit comments online regarding the toll relief proposal. Public comments will close at 5 p.m. on Oct. 3.
Nine public hearings are scheduled in September. Locations include Harford, Cecil, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Queen Anne’s, Prince George’s, Charles and Montgomery counties and in Baltimore City. Dates, times and specific locations will be announced online and via local media.
A Toll Hearing Final Report will be submitted Oct. 31 for review by the MDTA Board and will be posted on MDTA’s website for additional public comment. The board is scheduled to vote on a final recommendation at its Nov. 21 meeting.
If passed, this will mark Gov. Hogan’s third toll relief program. In 2015, Hogan introduced a plan that was expected to save Maryland toll users $270 million over five years. Last year, the governor offered free E-ZPass transponders, which could save an additional $46 million over five years.
“We are proud to once again deliver historic toll relief for our citizens by putting another $28 million back into the pockets of hardworking Marylanders,” Hogan said in a statement. “In 2015, we cut tolls at every single facility in the state – the first time tolls had been cut in 50 years. With this next action, we will be delivering on three rounds of toll relief in less than five years.”