PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Turnpike Authority Board voted unanimously Thursday to keep the current E-ZPass Volume Based Discount Program in place indefinitely. The current discount rates initially were approved by board members as a phase-in plan set to expire on July 1, 2013.
Maine E-ZPass account holders who take at least 40 one-way trips a month get an additional 50 percent off their entire bill for that month. Those who make between 30 and 39 one-way trips get a 25 percent discount. Maine E-ZPass rates already are set lower than cash tolls for most Turnpike trips, even before the volume discount is applied.
“We listened to commuters very closely and recognized their concerns. It is clear that the new discount plan is popular and working well, so we are going to maintain it long-term,” said Executive Director Peter Mills in a press release. “We’re raising just enough revenue to meet the needs of the Turnpike while still allowing us to deliver a very substantial discount to commuters using a Maine E-ZPass,” he continued.
The new discount plan is expected to save Maine Turnpike E-ZPass customers approximately $6 million annually in tolls — more than three times the amount under the old Commuter Plan. More than 27,000 Maine E-ZPass commuters had their toll rates lowered 50 percent in April. Another 9,600 received a 25 percent discount. Nearly 20,000 new Maine E-ZPass transponders have been sold since the new plan was implemented in November 2012.
Tolls are the only source of revenue used by the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) to maintain and operate the Turnpike as well as pay back bondholders who loan private capital to finance safety improvements, and major reconstruction projects. No federal or state tax dollars have ever been used on the Maine Turnpike.
The MTA is an quasi-independent state agency that finances, owns and operates I-95 between Kittery and Augusta. The Authority’s seven members, appointed by the governor with consent of the Maine Senate, serve as the agency’s policy-setting and governing body.