A Harris County Toll Road Authority program that will reduce the cost of tolls by 10% was approved unanimously by Harris County commissioners Jan. 31.

The discount will represent $894 million in discounts over the course of 10 years, or about $90 million in savings per year, Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey said Jan. 31.

“This gives us confidence in what the [Harris County] Toll Road Authority's doing,” Ramsey said. “When you look at the consistent revenues that they generate, when you look at their ability to cover what they do. I think we are, in many ways, an envy of the state, in terms of how well we run our toll road authority.”

As previously reported by Community Impact, the rate reduction will go into effect by Sept. 4. HCTRA will also provide up to eight free EZ tags per household as part of the program.

The proposal was initially presented at a Jan. 24 news conference. HCTRA Director Roberto Treviño said the 10% discount would apply to those driving two-axle vehicles, which he said make up 95% of HCTRA’s transactions. He added that drivers can choose to apply the discount on each individual transaction or after aggregating transactions on a monthly basis.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia thanked Treviño for his leadership in creating this program on Jan. 31.

“I have told folks before, and I'll say it again: Until your arrival, the toll system was for other people, and you have been very, very creative and very strategic on how to make sure that local neighborhoods, those neighborhoods inside the loop, inner city are also receiving a benefit from the toll system,” Garcia said.

As part of the transition to all-electronic tollways, the county will also be phasing in several options for residents to obtain EZ tags at retail stores, open cash-backed accounts and pay at EZ TAG retail stores, Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said during the Jan. 24 news conference.

In response to a question at the Jan. 24 news conference about losing 10% of revenue from 95% of the customer base, Treviño said the population growth in the region will correspond to increased demand and use of the toll road systems.

Rachel Carlton contributed to this report.