Pennsylvania senior citizens won't get the same discount as New Jersey seniors when Delaware River bridge tolls increase, unless they get a New Jersey-issued E-ZPass transponder.

And Pennsylvania residents aren't happy.

"Since it's a joint authority, it seems to me we should be given the same discount," said Ken Beahan, 67, a retired investment banker from Holland, Bucks County.

"It kind of makes me think we're taking a back seat to New Jersey."

Tolls will increase Sunday on the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry bridges, going to $4 from the current $3.

Drivers at least 65 years old, who currently are eligible for discount tickets that permit them to cross the bridges for $1, will see their fare double to $2, unless they use E-ZPass. Then the discounted fare will be $1.75.

But that won't apply to drivers using an E-ZPass transponder issued in Pennsylvania. Only transponders issued by New Jersey E-ZPass may be registered to qualify for the senior discount, DRPA officials said.

Pennsylvania residents can get a New Jersey-issued E-ZPass at no cost and then register it with the DRPA to qualify for the discount, DRPA officials said yesterday.

DRPA chief financial officer John Hanson said the requirement was necessary because other E-ZPass agencies don't have the ability to process the discount.

"It's not a Pennsylvania-New Jersey issue," Hanson said.

If other E-ZPass agencies wanted the DRPA to pay to modify their computer programs to handle the senior citizen discount, "we'd have to examine all the ramifications," Hanson said.

"If the discount is something people are interested in taking advantage of, they should probably look into getting a New Jersey E-ZPass and turning in their other one," Hanson said.

The DRPA expects to raise nearly $1 billion over five years from the toll increases that take effect Sunday and a second round of increases in 2010.

"Since Pennsylvania has representation on the DRPA board, why are Pennsylvanians being discriminated against?" said Herbert Aaronson, a retired physician from Churchville in Bucks County.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey each have eight representatives on the DRPA board, which is chaired by Gov. Rendell.

An application for a New Jersey E-ZPass is available by calling 888-288-6865 or online at

» READ MORE: www.ezpassnj.com

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To qualify for the discount, senior citizens must then enroll their New Jersey E-ZPass transponder with the DRPA. Those applications are available at

» READ MORE: www.drpa.org

or by calling 856-968-3347.

Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com

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