2017-03-17 / Top Stories

Cuomo Announces Cashless Tolling To Begin On Rockaway Bridges April 30

By Mark C. Healey

Cashless tolling will begin on the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Bridges on April 30.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the start date of the program in a press release sent to The Wave on March 16.

"The Rockaway bridges are vital arteries for the Queens community and we are taking action to reduce congestion, increase safety and streamline the commute at these crossings," said Cuomo.

According to Cuomo, the cashless tolling initiative is a major component of the plan to reimagine New York's crossings for the 21st century.

Most importantly for Rockaway, the belief is that cashless tolling will reduce congestion and improve travel time at Rockaway’s major crossings ahead of the region’s summer travel season, which with a completely rebuilt boardwalk, is expected to be Rockaway biggest ever.

“This is a fantastic new development, which hopefully should help clear up some of our seemingly intractable problems with congestion,” said Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato. “I’ll be doing whatever I can to get the word out. These changes will impact every regular commuter, every visitor – anyone who crosses the bridge by car. We’ll do our best to answer questions from our office.”

According to Cuomo, E-ZPass will provide the best rate for all drivers, including Rockaway residents.

Starting April 30, cash and metal tokens will no longer be accepted at either bridge, Commuters with leftover bridge tokens are encouraged to transition to E-Z Pass and will be eligible to redeem their tokens for a refund by visiting one of the EZPass New York Customer Service walk-in centers and completing a token redemption request, or by calling 212-360- 3000, selecting option 6 and requesting a token refund kit. Resident token users will be mailed information from MTA Bridges and Tunnels with instructions on how to transition from tokens to E-ZPass. Non-resident token users can go to mta.info/e-zpass to get more information on opening an E-ZPass account.

Cashless tolling is projected to save commuters up to 21 hours of drive time every year. Additionally, it reduces emissions and significantly decreases the amount of fuel burned by drivers, who will no longer have to stop and start waiting to pay tolls. This will conserve approximately one million gallons of fuel and save $2.3 million each year.

To make it easy for drivers to pay their tolls, MTA Bridges and Tunnels has introduced a number of programs. Customers can sign up for E-ZPass and save 30- 50 percent on MTA B&T tolls at MTA.info/E-ZPass even if they do not own a car. Drivers who receive a Tolls by Mail bill can pay it online at the Tolls by Mail website; by mail; over the phone; or inperson, and payment options include check, credit card, checking account, or cash. Customers who call **826 from a mobile phone will receive a text with a link to the Tolls by Mail website and information on how to set up a Pay Toll Now account that can be used by rental car customers.

How it works: Cashless sensors and cameras suspended over the highway on structures known as "gantries" read E-ZPass tags and take license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop and pay the toll. Vehicles with E-ZPass tags are automatically charged, and vehicles without E-ZPass have their license plate recorded and a bill is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. E-ZPass tags should be mounted inside the vehicle’s front windshield.

To ensure that all users of MTA Bridges and Tunnels toll facilities pay their fair share, 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 enforcement actions. Late fees accrue 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.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has enacted regulation that allows suspension of the vehicle registration of motorists who fail to pay three tolls, violation fees, and other charges resulting from violations on different days, within a period of five years, and ignore toll authorities' repeated notices.

For additional information on cashless tolling and EZPass, please visit MTA.info/ cashless or call 1-800-333- TOLL (8655).

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