Demanding Answers: AAA Calls For End To E-ZPass ‘Discount Deception’

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some call it the discount deception – drivers using E-ZPass might assume they are getting a discount on tolls, but they are not.

It is a problem in many states, but particularly in New York and New Jersey. CBS2’s Tony Aiello was demanding answers Wednesday night.

New Jersey drivers in the Queens-Midtown Tunnel may be in the dark. Their E-ZPasses are charged $8.50 instead of the discounted rate of $5.76.

“I like the idea of the discount,” one driver said. “I don’t know that the whole set up is kosher!”

Many said the setup is a ripoff. New York, New Jersey, and several other states have ended discounts for drivers with out-of-state E-ZPass accounts.

So New Jersey accounts pay the higher charge at Metropolitan Transportation Authority tunnels and bridges, while New York accounts do not get the discount on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Driving the entire length of the turnpike at midday with a New York E-ZPass costs $13.85, instead of the discounted $10.40.

“I touch New York, New Jersey every single day,” said driver Adi Kurti, who said he would like to see the discount everywhere.

The MTA and Turnpike Authority ended the out-of-state discounts in order to raise revenue. Their suggestion is to get two E-ZPasses, one from each state, in order to receive all the discounts.

Apparently, the expectation is a driver will take down the first E-ZPass, swap it out with the second E-ZPass, put the first one in the protective sleeve so it is not accidentally read, and mount the second one. But doing the hokey-pokey with E-ZPasses will likely mean distracted driving.

“It’s dangerous. It’s a serious distraction,” said Robert Sinclair Jr. of AAA Northeast. “It makes no sense!”

AAA this week asked the federal government to issue an order to end the “discount deception,” saying, “Drivers who cross the same bridge and pay the same way should be charged the same amount.”

“Why not just give it to everybody?” Sinclair said. “It would make sense and it’s practical.”

The offices of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo sidestepped CBS2’s questions on the issue Wednesday. AAA told driver they need to rev up their concern if they want to see a change.

The MTA said by ending the out-of-state discount, it raised revenue that supports subway, bus, and commuter rail options. The AAA has praise for the Port Authority, which gives a discount to all E-ZPass holders from any state at its bridges and tunnels.

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