Cashless tolling coming to MTA bridges and tunnels in 2017

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NEW YORK — You’ll no longer have to wait in backed up traffic or dig around for cash while inching toward the toll booth, because cashless tolling is coming our way.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that cashless, open road tolling will be implemented across the city starting in January, thus making it easier for vehicles of all kinds to easily drive through tolls, save countless hours, gas and gas money, and more importantly, avoid the minor annoyance of stopping to pay a toll.

State-of-the-art sensors and cameras will be suspended over roads on structures called “gantries” that read E-Z Pass tags and take photos of license plates, according to a news release.

This means that vehicles will no longer have to stop to pay a toll: E-Z Pass tags, placed in front windshields, will be scanned by sensors above the road, and non-E-Z Pass riders will have their license plates photographed and a bill sent to them within 30 days for the toll money.

Tolls paid by mail will cost the same rate as previously paid by cash customers, and E-Z Pass customers will still get a 30 percent discount, according to a news release.

This new tolling system is expected to save commuters approximately 21 hours of drive time every year, according to a news release. And the fact that vehicles will no longer idle as they wait in line to pay tolls or have their E-Z Pass scanned means approximately one million gallons of fuel will be conserved, saving around $2.3 million each year.

New cashless tolling will begin at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel in January.

The Rockaway Bridges will receive the cashless upgrade in the spring, and major area bridges will see the change in the summer and fall. The RFK Bridge and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will start cashless tolling next summer and the Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone Bridge in the fall.

“These improvements will enhance traffic flow, reduce congestion and decrease commute times making it safer for New Yorkers to get where they need to go,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast in a news release. “The accelerated schedule we are undertaking to modernize all our facilities in 2017 underscores the Governor’s commitment to investing in New York’s transportation network to meet the needs of a growing city.”

The state is also planning on stationing 150 state troopers at various bridges and tunnels to help crack down on toll evasion, according to a news release. Toll evasion fees will also increase at select bridges and tunnels. The cameras used to scan and photograph license plates will also pick up on suspended registrations and alert troopers and bridge and tunnel officers in a matter of seconds.

New art projects will be part of the upgrades as well: multi-colored lights will be installed in several tunnels and on several bridges and operate on a dusk to dawn lighting schedule.