Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge switched to open-road cashless tolling last April.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s move from traditional toll booths to Open Road Cashless Tolling at all state bridges and tunnels has sparked “significant and sustained improvements for motorists and the environment,” according to data released on Friday by the agency.
Statistics reveal that the gains include decreased travel times, reduced congestion, lower carbon emissions, improved safety, and savings to the MTA through reduced overall costs.
“The initial results are very encouraging and we will continue to work at providing our customers an enhanced travel experience at our crossings, while also making sure our facilities remain safe,” said MTA Chairman Joe Lhota.
The MTA implemented Open Road Cashless Tolling at all toll plazas in 2017. According to the agency, ORCT has allowed for a smoother, safer, quicker, environmentally friendly, and more continuous commute across all facilities:
• Customer travel time has been reduced by up to 32 percent.
• Customers have saved 3.4 million hours of travel time.
• Fuel consumption has been reduced by 1.6 billion gallons.
• Carbon emissions reduced by 15,393 tons.
• Compared to the pre-ORCT period, total collision rate on MTA bridges and tunnels has decreased by 12.8 percent.
• Number of collisions in the old toll areas is down by 41.42 percent.
Lhota also pointed out that a series of enforcement measures are in place to tackle toll payment evasion and chronic toll scofflaws. Customers who do not pay their tolls are subject to violation fees, registration suspensions, and other actions. Late fees will apply if an initial toll bill is unpaid, and if a second notice is also ignored, violation fees of up to $100 per toll violation may be imposed.
Additionally, the State Department of Motor Vehicles has enacted regulations that allow suspension of the vehicle registration of motorists with three or more unpaid tolls, violation fees and other charges resulting from violations on different days, as well as registration suspension of commercial vehicle owners with $200 or more in unpaid tolls and violation fees within a period of five years. Repeated notices are sent before eligibility for suspension, according to NY DMV.
However, the nascent tolling system has also caused its fair share of headaches. Some drivers have reported unknowingly incurring steep fines because, they claimed, they never received an original notice or bill in the mail. Other complaints include insufficient signage and the dangers caused by confused motorists who stop under the scanners when they’re supposed to continue driving through them.