For years, turnpikes and bridges were patrolled by drivers having to stop and pay a cash toll as they made their daily commute or traveled. Toll booths are particularly common around large metropolitan areas, like New York City. When drivers enter the city, which many do as they commute to work, they must stop and pay a toll at nearly every bridge and many roads as well. This charge does not only cost money, it costs valuable time as well. It’s normal to see cars backed up, sometimes for miles, depending on the time of day or year as people in each car scramble for the right amount of change. Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo has voiced his desire that cashless toll booths be implemented at New York City’s bridges and tunnels.
What are they?
The new automated toll booths will prevent drivers from stopping and wasting their time paying at the machines. The toll booths that are currently active are a relic of the past and waste valuable time that could better be used by everyone traveling over these roads and bridges. Governor Cuomo estimates that each commuter will save around 21 hours a year. That’s nearly an entire day that would otherwise be spent sitting in a car, waiting to pay a toll. Some automatic toll booths have already been put into place on the Henry Hudson and Tappan Zee bridges, while other locations throughout the country have already instituted the automatic booths.
How does it work?
Instead of requiring each individual driver to stop and spend time paying for their toll, which often leads to people scrambling around their car or purse to find money, the machines will be able to automatically pull the toll from a driver’s E-ZPass or a bill will be sent through the mail to anyone who does not have an E-ZPass. The cameras of the toll booths will also be able to take accurate photos of license plates and drivers’ faces for identification purposes if an issue ever arises.
A further measure the governor is taking to ensure that automatic toll booths are successful is by reassigning over 100 NYPD officers to monitor the bridges and tunnels leading in and out of the city. If a person continuously refuses to pay their bill for their required toll, the automated toll booths will register their license plate and send the information to the on-duty officers in less than five seconds. Pull-off lanes will soon be added to the tool areas so police can easily pull over those who continuously avoid paying their tolls. The former toll booth workers and other workers whose jobs are no longer available will be moved to the state police enforcement division for new jobs.
It’s only a matter of time before these automated toll booths become the norm. Will they truly save time, or could they become a nuisance, causing more headaches for New York commuters? We will have to wait and see!