Cashless tolling on the Cross Bay Bridge will begin on April 30.
By Forum Staff
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels staff have begun to remove tolling stations along the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to implement cashless tolling for all MTA-operated spans in the New York metropolitan area by the end of the year, State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) noted this week.
According to Cuomo, with the April 30 implementation of open-road tolling, sensors and cameras will be suspended over the highway on structures called “gantries” that read E-ZPass tags and take license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop to pay the toll. Vehicles with E-ZPass tags are automatically charged. Non-E-ZPass vehicles have their license plates recorded and a bill is mailed to the registered owner of each vehicle every 30 days. Customers who pay tolls by mail will pay the same toll rate as previously paid by cash customers, and E-ZPass customers with New York Service Center tags will continue to get at least a 30 percent discount. E-ZPass tags should be mounted inside the vehicle’s front windshield, Cuomo noted.
Addabbo supports cashless tolling, but also said that he worried about the fate of toll booth staff.
“While the MTA has assured me that there will be no immediate loss of jobs, I am concerned about the possible elimination of the toll booth positions over time,” the senator, who worked the Cross Bay Bridge booth in the 1980s, said. “Aside from the likely jobs reduction, there are other issues that will have to be monitored with the new cashless toll arrangement, such as the potential for lax enforcement against toll evaders and unpaid invoices mailed to the registered vehicle owners, which could cause the MTA to lose millions.”
While Cuomo’s plans include provisions to enforce stiffer penalties on toll evaders and out-of-state travelers, Addabbo said he feels more can be done for the taxpaying residents in the 15th District and throughout the borough. Addabbo has been advocating for an idea that has been heard before: Remove the toll entirely on the Cross Bay Bridge – if not completely, then minimally from Labor Day to Memorial Day.
“Access over the bridge should be free for all Queens residents,” Addabbo said. “We all know that the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge is the only bridge in New York City that requires you pay a toll to travel within the same borough. As I recently drove into the Rockaway part of my district and watched the dismantling of the toll structures there, I thought that this toll should be eliminated totally.”