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Port Authority of NY/NJ to go all electronic?

From the News-Journal of Wilmington, DE, there was a recent story about how the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) is considering removing traditional toll booths from their toll facilities and gravitating towards electronic toll collection. This would be put in effect to improve traffic flow into New York City, as all Port Authority tolls are levied into traffic driving eastbound into New York City. The last toll booths that were removed in the New York City area were some of the toll booths at the Spring Valley Toll Barrier on the New York Thruway (in Rockland County) and the elimination of a 25 cent toll on the Hutchinson River Parkway at the Bronx-Westchester County line near New Rochelle. This took place about 15 years ago.

The authority now uses a mix of electronic toll collection and staffed toll booths where drivers can pay with cash at its bridges and tunnels that span between New York City and New Jersey. Under an all-electronic tolling system, the authority would use cameras to record the license plates and send bills to motorists who do not have E-ZPass accounts. This practice is currently used in the collection of tolls on the ETR 407 in metropolitan Toronto.

One feature of the toll changes could be the implementation of on-peak and off-peak toll pricing for all drivers. Currently, passenger car drivers paying cash are charged $6 at all times. Those with E-ZPass pay $5 during peak times and a $4 off-peak toll is charged at other times. There is currently no word on how the tolls would change with electronic tolling.

High speed, all-electronic tolling, or "open road tolling" could work very well, in theory. It will help the traffic flow by diminishing and possibly eliminating some bottlenecks that lead towards toll booths. Open road tolling is currently being implemented at various toll facilities along the New York Thruway in Orange and Rockland Counties. It is also use along the various tollways in the Chicago area and on the DE 1 Turnpike in Delaware, and based upon my experiences driving around Chicagoland and Delaware, it seems to work very well. The open road tolling in question is for cars that have an E-ZPass or I-Pass device, the rest of the people are expected to pay their toll at a booth.

The downside to going all-electronic and demolishing the toll booths would be the collection of tolls to people who do not have electronic toll collection devices in their car. The Port Authority states that they would send bills to those people, but how honest will people be with paying. Surely, there will be many people who will promptly pay their bills, but others may disregard the bills. The Port Authority could enlist the help of collection agencies in collecting tolls (with interest) to delinquent persons. How will statements be sent? Will it be by the toll, or will it become a monthly affair?

I like the idea of all-electronic tolling, but I would prefer a mix of open road tolling and traditional toll booths. But knowing the lack of open space around the bridge and tunnel toll facilities around the New York City area, this may be the best way to go about things in order to alleviate traffic jams.

http://tinyurl.com/ywm2ap - News Journal (Wilmington, DE)

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