With higher tolls on the Delaware River bridges, senior citizens would lose part of a unique discount they have enjoyed for years.
The cost for a senior-discount round trip would double to $2 on Sept. 14 as part of a planned toll increase. And the discount would be eliminated between 6 and 9 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m.
Also, instead of using special $1 tickets at the toll booths, seniors would be required to get an E-ZPass account and would be limited to one discount per day.
"I'm not going to get an E-ZPass. I'll just have to pay the $4," said Angie Stanisci, 69, a South Philadelphia legal secretary who uses the senior discount for trips across the Walt Whitman Bridge to visit friends in South Jersey and to go to Atlantic City casinos.
The Rev. Tony Evans, director of Camden's Health and Human Services Department, predicted that the higher tolls for seniors would "have an effect, but we don't yet know the full impact."
One woman whose elderly husband travels across the river each morning from Delaware County to work in Deptford said, "There's not that much you can do about it . . . but between the price of gas and the cost of tolls going up, it's getting expensive."
The woman, who said she would not discuss her family's situation if her name were published, said her husband had been using the senior discount every day for four years. Because he travels during peak commuting times, he no longer would be eligible for the discount.
The reductions in the senior discount program are part of a plan to increase car tolls by $1 and PATCO train fares by 10 percent announced Thursday by Delaware River Port Authority officials. The proposed increases, if approved by the DRPA board at its August meeting, would take effect Sept. 14. Approval is expected.
A second round of similar increases is to take effect in September 2010. At that time, the senior discount would increase to $2.50 per round trip.
The DRPA sells about 200,000 senior discount tickets per month.
Senior citizens would be able to use existing tickets until Dec. 31, but would have to use two at a time to pay the $2 toll after Sept. 14, spokesman Ed Kasuba said yesterday. After the end of the year, the value of any remaining tickets could be applied to an E-ZPass account, Kasuba said.
The agency is working out details for how to set up the E-ZPass link for senior citizens, he said.
Although half-price senior-citizen discounts are required of transit agencies, the DRPA says it is the only toll agency in the country that offers a senior discount. On SEPTA, seniors ride free on buses, subways and trolleys, and pay $1 on Regional Rail trains. On PATCO, the new off-peak senior discount fare would be 62 cents per ride, up a nickel from the current 57 cents. On NJ Transit, anyone 62 or older may ride for half-price at any time.
More details about the DRPA senior discount program are available by calling 856-968-3347 or on the Web at
Hearings on the proposed toll increases are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.:
July 22 at the main lounge of the Campus Center at Rutgers University-Camden, 326 Penn St.
July 23 at the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal, Building No. 3, Navy Yard, 5100 S. Broad St.