Following a request from state Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is reconsidering a toll discount program for veterans.
In 2009, former Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 3139 into law that allows for the creation of a discount program for veterans to either have tolls waived or discounted.
The Texas Department of Transportation offers a Veteran Discount Program on its toll roads, including SH 130 from Georgetown to near Buda, SH 45 N, SH 45 SE and Loop 1 north of Parmer Lane.
However, the Mobility Authority does not offer such a program.
“At that time we were a young, fledgling agency and had to count every nickel,” Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein said. “We couldn’t do discounts beyond Capital Metro buses and vanpools. Since then, we’ve taken another look.”
In Texas, there are about 318,000 qualified veterans license plates, an increase from 226,400 in 2010.
The Mobility Authority estimates it would cost about $95,000 to implement a veterans discount program and have an annual revenue impact of $1.85 million, or about 2.9 percent of total revenue, to implement the program on Toll 183A, 290 Toll and SH 71. The program would not be offered on MoPac because it is a variably priced toll lane and there are nontolled lanes adjacent, Heiligenstein said.
Veterans who currently use the Mobility Authority’s toll roads may be eligible to be reimbursed through the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs for toll charges when they use a toll road to travel to a VA medical facility for care.
“I would like to see CTRMA give the same honor to our veterans,” Dale said.
Next steps for the Mobility Authority include conducting a traffic and revenue study to ensure the program would not affect the agency’s ability to repay bonds as well as develop the program and a communication plan.
The target implementation date is in fiscal year 2018-19.
The agency’s board of directors would have final approval, but Heiligenstein said the program likely would be offered for those who have a TxTag and would be available to veterans and recipients of the Purple Heart, Legion of Valor and the Congressional Medal of Honor.