Reporting Peter Haskell
WOODBRIDGE, NJ (AP / CBSNewYork) – New Jersey is planning to crack down on motorists who go through exact change lanes on the Garden State Parkway without paying their tolls.
Officials say the toll cheats cost the state $4 million a year in lost revenue, noting that many drivers toss slugs, rocks and other foreign objects into the collection baskets.
So they plan to have a video system in place by summer’s end to capture the license plates of violators. They also will double the fine imposed on toll cheats, raising it from $25 to $50.
WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell: Will There Be An Unintended Consequence?
The new technology will replace a 50-year-old system that allowed drivers who didn’t have exact change to take home an envelope provided at the toll lanes. They were then supposed to put the amount owed in the envelope and mail it in, but officials say they collected just $28,000 through that system in 2010.
The video system is being put in place by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which oversees the turnpike and the parkway.
In a related matter, the authority also wants to eliminate off-peak E-ZPass discounts for cars whose accounts are outside the New Jersey E-ZPass system.
Besides the authority, the E-ZPass system includes the Delaware River Bay Authority, Delaware River Port Authority, Burlington County Bridge Commission and the South Jersey Transportation Authority. But it does not include the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The agency believes the changes would raise an additional $16 million a year. Off-peak hours are weekdays from midnight to 7 a.m., 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to midnight.
Robert Sinclair of AAA New York wonders if there will be an unintended consequence that results from the change.
“I think it might be a disinsentive to people to come to New Jersey if they’re going to lose one of those little itty bitty perks that it takes to get there,” Sinclair told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.
Public hearings are planned on the proposal.
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