A state lawmaker from Atlantic City wants to give buses that regularly travel to the resort’s casinos a free pass on New Jersey’s toll roads.

The Senate Transportation Committee on Monday is scheduled to vote on the bill, which was authored by state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic.

“Obviously a lot of people travel by bus, and if you make it cheaper for the bus companies, they may run more lines and they may bring more customers,” said Whelan, a former Atlantic City mayor.

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Whelan introduced the measure in June. Under its terms, the bus owner would have to provide service to the resort at least once each week. Buses that qualify would be outfitted with a transponder that would exempt them from having to pay to use the state’s three toll roads: The New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway.

Not including tunnel tolls, buses pay about $31 to go from New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal to Atlantic City. With an E-ZPass transponder during off-peak hours, the buses pay about $20.

The bill comes as lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie’s administration look for new ways to revive the struggling resort. Its casinos’ revenues dropped for the sixth straight year in 2012, according to a report released Thursday. The $3.05 billion the casinos took in was down 8 percent from 2011, and down from $5.2 billion in 2006.

Whelan said exempting the buses from tolls “doesn’t solve all the problems.”

“But if it helps a little, it helps a little,” he said.

An Associated Press member exchange report

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