Changes at Lincoln Tunnel for carpooling commuters

April 27, 2010 3:27:17 PM PDT
Commuters who carpool are fuming about changes at the Lincoln Tunnel. Changes in toll booths means their daily drive in and out of New York City takes a lot longer.

"This is something that should be encouraged, not discouraged, their decision is absurd," said Michael Miller.

Miller has been driving through the Lincoln Tunnel at rush hour with a carful of friends since the late 1980's.

So you can imagine his surprise when last week the special lane reserved for carpools and buses was closed.

Cars with three or more people still get an impressive discount at the tolls where they pay $2 instead of $8.

But now that lane 2 is closed, carpoolers no longer save any time.

"I don't think they thought about what they were doing or the implications of what they were doing in making this decision," said John Zagami.

Now carpoolers are grouped in with all the other commuters driving alone.

Even worse, they have to sit in the cash lanes so a collector can verify they qualify for the discount.

"Every one of them adds 15-20 minutes, there just is no easy way anymore to get through the tunnel," said Jacob Schlanger.

The Port Authority justifies the change by saying it will save money and make drivers safer. Save money by getting rid of one toll booth collector, and make drivers safer by no longer allowing cars to mix with buses in the HOV lanes.

For one carful of commuters from Montclair, carpooling is about more than saving time and money, it's about helping the environment by using less gas and producing fewer emissions.

Ironically, the Port Authority introduced its new policy three days before Earth Day.

"I like saving time and I feel like we're taking a step to be more sustainable and I don't understand why they stopped the carpool lane," said Debbie Fitzgerald.

A spokeswoman for the Port Authority tells Eyewitness News that despite all the complaints, they have no plans to reverse the policy.