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WCBS 880 Special Series: Your Future Commute – New Tolls

Henry Hudson Bridge Toll Plaza (file / credit: Google Maps)

Henry Hudson Bridge Toll Plaza (file / credit: Google Maps)

WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot is continuing his week-long look at Your Future Commute. Click here to see all of the segments thus far.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The future will not be free. There will be tolls. But how you give up your money will change.

WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot On The Story

“Cash is going out. Cash toll collection on the toll road is disappearing,” Peter Samuel of TollRoad.com said. “MTA Bridges and Tunnels is opening its first all-electronic cashless toll plaza on the Henry Hudson [Bridge].”

New Jersey is said to be considering cashless tolling on the Garden State Parkway, perhaps as soon as next summer. Is that true?

“Oh no. They’re not considering it. They’re doing it. They will go cashless,” Samuel told WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot.

Parkway officials said there is no timetable, but the toll takers’ contract does expire in the summer.

“Electronic toll collection is a lot cheaper to do than employing people to sit in booths and take money and give change and stuff,” Samuel said.

You future commute will surely be faster with high-speed tolls and with emerging technology in New York City that lets you find and reserve a parking spot before you even arrive.

“Department of Transportation estimates that over 30 percent of congestion in the inner city is the result of driving around looking for parking,” Scott Belcher, President of the Intelligent Transportation Society, told Cabot.

He said that eventually your cell phone or dashboard will snag the parking spot and direct you there.

WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot: How Does Cashless Tolling Work?

“When the Garden State Parkway is built, we’ll be able to move at 50 miles per hour in comfort and safety,” a long ago narrator could be heard saying.

But back then you had to stop for every toll and toss a quarter or token in, and there was a toll taker to help.

The tokens are already gone and with cashless tolls coming in, the jobs of toll takers will be going out.

As for the cashless tolling itself, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which runs the Parkway, said very little equipment will have to purchased because it’s already there for E-ZPass.

The transition to cashless tolling should be smooth since 75 percent of GSP drivers already have E-ZPass. On the New Jersey Turnpike, it’s 80 percent.

How does it work on toll roads that have gone cashless?

On the Intercounty Connector near Baltimore, if you don’t have E-ZPass, they take your car’s picture, run your license plate, and bill you the toll, plus a handling fee of a couple of bucks.

Also, watch out if you’re driving a rental car. Thrifty charges you $25 if you skip a cashless toll. That’s because they have to take the time to figure out who was driving when the violation occurred.

Some are trying to stop this trend on the principle that cash is legal tender.

Paul Mulshine, a rabble-rouser for the Star-Ledger, calls cashless tolling the most Orwellian idea ever to come down the pike, as it were.

A bill in Trenton would require that a cash lane be manned wherever tolls are collected.

“There is a system for paying cash for a toll, but not on the road itself. This is something that MTA Bridges and Tunnels there in the New York area is pushing very hard now because there are certain groups, particularly Hispanics where there’s a lot of people who don’t have a bank account. Well, there is an answer to that, you get an E-ZPass but rather than connect it to a bank account, you can pay for it at the grocery store or the gas station,” Samuel said.

That’s just like you would recharge a Starbucks card.

Tune in Thursday for the next part in this series.