Let me begin this entire article by saying “Bravo” to Governor Hogan for finally getting some much needed toll relief for the state of Maryland. The $54 million reduction in tolls was much needed and a long time coming. The elimination of the monthly account fee for E-Z Pass is a blessing, too. That said, as the title of the article notes, while there are toll reductions throughout Maryland there are a number of us left out of the ranks of those seeing their tolls reduced. This group includes me.
Living in Eastern Baltimore County, tolls are a fact of everyday life. To get south of Baltimore City, you need to pay a toll. To get around to Anne Arundel County, you need to pay a toll. For my everyday commute into work, I need to pay a toll. There are ways to avoid it – but this generally involves long drives in the opposite direction around the beltway or traversing inside of Baltimore City through inner city traffic in a way that becomes a huge headache. As such, there is a commuter program for those of us who have to pay a daily toll as part of our commute. It’s appreciated and it saves us some money in the long run.
As a commuter who crosses a toll bridge daily for work, I was excited when I saw the toll rates drop. I was thinking perhaps my daily commute would become cheaper. Since I moved to Maryland in 2008, my toll rates as a commuter from Eastern Baltimore County have increased 250%. When I saw the rates, though, my commuter rate across the Key Bridge and the I-95 tunnels did not drop. There was a 33% lowering of the commuter rate for the Bay Bridge to the same rate as that of the Key Bridge. Considering length-wise, the Key Bridge is 7% the size of the Bay Bridge, this feels a bit disproportionate.
There are approximately 200,000 residents of Eastern Baltimore County. Those of us who commute will see the reduction in the E-Z Pass monthly fee, but our tolls will remain the same. I’m not asking for much, even the 33% reduction the Bay Bridge saw would be a big help to us commuters. Some reduction in the 250% increase that Martin O’Malley’s MdTA gave us would be appreciated. Well, maybe next time.