Bill seeks study of Bay Bridge annual pass
ANNAPOLIS — Legislation has passed the Maryland State Senate calling for a study by the Maryland Transportation Authority of the feasibility of a flat-fee annual pass for crossing the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge and other toll facilities across the state.
SB 416, co-sponsored by Sen. Steve Hershey, R36-Upper Shore, was approved by the Senate on a vote of 47-0 and sent on to the House Environment and Transportation Committee, which held a hearing on it on March 24. As of Tuesday, March 29, the committee had not yet voted on the bill.
“There would be one payment that would allow unlimited use for the entire year,” Hershey said in an interview. “We didn’t specify in the bill what the payment would be, but we did suggest that it should be based off of, at the very least, the commuter rate, and then we were hoping for some type of a discount.”
Hershey believes that both users of an annual pass and the state would benefit, with the consumer knowing they would only have to pay one price without any other charges, and the state knowing it would have specified income from the pass program.
Like E-ZPass, motorists who would have an annual pass would be able to pass through the toll plaza without stopping. Hershey said such a system has been in use at the Hatem Bridge over the Susquehanna River for some time and is working well.
“We believe there would be some economy of scale or some savings if this were done, and the MdTA wouldn’t have to continue to invoice people. It would be one invoice instead of 12 invoices,” Hershey said.
According to the legislation, the study would look at the cost benefit analy- sis, and would require the MdTA to “submit a report of its findings and recom- mendations from the study to certain committees of the General Assembly” on or before Dec. 1, 2016.
In its original form, the bill would have required the MdTA to establish an annual pass option, but as it made its way through the Senate Finance Committee, it was amended, and the requirement to establish the option was changed to a study of such an option, according to Hershey.
The primary sponsor of the bill is Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, R-6-Baltimore County, and there are 19 co-sponsors.
“Hopefully, we can find a good price that will make this attractive to users of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge,” Hershey said.
Traffic passes through the Bay Bridge toll plaza headed for the Eastern Shore. Legislation seeks a study of the feasibility of annual passes for users of the bridge.