By Michael Hill
The Port Authority board agreed to replace the 19-year-old toll collecting equipment at the Bayonne Bridge, the GWB, Goethals, Outerbridge and Lincoln and Holland tunnels because the old system is way beyond its design use.
The new system will be capable of collecting cashless tolls for drivers who don’t have E-ZPass. It’s a system New York has been using on the Henry Hudson Bridge since 2012. To collect the toll, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority sends drivers notices to pay by mail or online.
“We’re starting with one bridge,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.
Two years ago, the Port Authority voted to have cashless tolls on the Bayonne Bridge starting in 2017, once crews complete the raised roadway.
Thirteen states already have all electronic tolling.
“Today about 85 percent of our $1.8 billion tolls revenue is payable by people using E-ZPass, the penetration’s about 85 percent. That’s going to continue to be the case. The toll by mail will only be a significant percentage, a significant amount of money if you multiply it by $1.8 billion. So, the toll by mail will be for the portion that to which E-ZPass penetration has not occurred yet,” Foye said.
The Port Authority says that no one should use this as a method to avoid paying tolls. But it says just in case, they should it keep in mind what New York does because it’s a good model to follow.
“Now this only applies to New York drivers and New York registrations, but persistent toll violators, pursuant to changes made by Gov. Cuomo and the DMV are subject to loss of registration, loss of their driving privileges for persistent toll violators. Gov. Cuomo and the DMV in New York State adopted that in anticipation of cashless tolls. It will benefit us on the Bayonne Bridge and the MTA and other tolling agencies in the state,” Foye said.
Foye says just this week Port Authority Police cracked down on violators who owe a quarter of a million dollars.
“Our goal is to minimize and to drive the amount uncollected to zero. We start with a base of 85 percent of the $1.8 billion with the toll revenue already comes in on E-ZPass. I would expect that toll penetration to grow over time, frankly, as it has around the country and we are very focused on rigorous enforcement,” Foye said.
Foye says he expects the system to work well but the Port Authority’s going to cashless tolls next year with just the Bayonne Bridge.