NJ Turnpike Authority Shelves Privatization

The Asbury Park Press reports that New Jersey Turnpike Authority commissioners will no longer be voting on whether or not to privatize toll collection on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. Instead, they will be voting to approve a tentative agreement with the two toll collector unions who offered a series of concessions to thwart privatization. According to the Asbury Park Press, the two-year agreement will reduce toll collectors’ salaries from $65,000 per year (plus benefits) down to $49,000 per year (plus benefits), and would facilitate transition to entirely cashless toll collection.

Last December the Turnpike Authority issued a request for proposal (RFP) asking private companies to bid on a five-year contract to provide toll collection. Assuming the Asbury Park Press report is accurate, all four bids will be rejected. This decision comes amid public condemnation from State Comptroller Matthew Boxer, State Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson, and others who have criticized the agency for wasting taxpayer money by abusing benefit programs and operating inefficiently. That being said, it is rumored there are not enough votes among the seven Turnpike Authority commissioners to proceed with privatization at this time. For more background on this story, see my previous posts here and here.

For Reason Foundation’s latest work on public-private partnerships and privatization in transportation, see the 19th Annual Highway Reportâ??which finds New Jersey has the sixth least cost-effective roads in the nationâ??and Reason Foundation’s Transportation Research Archive here.