New York City is home to the country’s extensive transportation system, allowing its residents to move around effectively. However, without proper toll collection and other laws in place, the system may as well collapse. A big piece to this puzzle is the E-Z Pass that ensures smooth state-wide toll collection. So, how does New York State E-Z Pass work? Let’s find out.
What Is E-Z Pass?
It refers to a wide electronic toll collection system used on toll tunnels, bridges, and roads in the Southern, Midwestern, and Eastern United States. This technology allows travelers to make use of the same transponder on toll roads across the network.
How Does New York State E-Z Pass Work?
The functionality of the E-Z Pass in New York State can be divided into various categories. Here are some of them:
How Does the Technology Of This Pass Work?
Since they’re active RFID transponders, they communicate through built-in reader equipment on open-road toll collection areas by sending a radio signal. An internal tag is usually mounted on the vehicle’s windshield close to the rearview mirror. An external tag is usually attached to the license plate mounting points.
The transponder of the E-Z Pass works by catching a signal that the reader at the toll booth sends. These transponders use Type II read/write technology.
How Is the Payment Made?
Each E-Z Pass tag is made for a particular type of vehicle. A valid tag is easily read and accepted in a typical toll lane, where it is charged accordingly. However, if the vehicle does not match the tag’s programmed vehicle class, the wrong toll amount is charged.
As a result of the violation, there may be a large fine imposed on the tag holder. This is especially true if a higher-class vehicle has a lower-class tag. To avoid this, E-Z Pass tags are usually colored blue, so there’s a good contrast with the white tags on standard cars.
This blue pass is also used for government vehicles. On the other hand, an orange tag is given to vehicles for emergencies and employees of the Transportation Authority, New York State Thruway Authority, etc.
Green-colored tags are usually given to zero-emission and low-emission vehicles. For interoperability purposes, these agencies are widely connected to each other through a reciprocity network that provides a platform to process transactions and exchange tag data.
History of E-Z Pass
In 2020, tolling was made completely cashless to mark the end of a rather long era for toll collection booths. The system that started roughly 66 years ago is now entering a new age with refined technology and greater convenience for travelers across New York.
The first tolls that were ever collected in the region were in 1954. Since then, these toll collectors have served as the organization’s backbone by collecting tolls and assisting people along the highway.
The first toll collector was hired from 1951 onwards at the toll booth of the Grand Island Bridge. Since then, over 12,000 women and men have been toll collectors here, working seven days a week and 24 hours a day in every season and various weather conditions.
Recruitment of the First Ever Team
When the system was first established, several people applied for the position of toll collector. This called for a need to have a Civil Service exam in 1953 to establish a final list of candidates. As a result, about 140 toll collectors, which had four women, were hired after they attended a two-week training course in June 1954.
Following the course, the supervisors and collectors were given positions at the toll stations between Rochester and Lowell. The same process of screening, recruiting, and training continued for a total of 30 toll collectors for the final opening of the Buffalo-Rochester section. Later, 180 more collectors were hired through the same procedure for the Utica-Newburgh section.
Initially, women toll collectors wore numbered badges on their blouse-style jackets accompanied by skirts and caps. Male collectors, on the other hand, wore trousers, short jackets, caps, and numbered badges on the blue uniforms.
Even though the toll booth technology underwent many changes over the years, customer service remained the same and played a vital role in the overall Thruway Authority operations.
Toll collectors have been just as important to the system as the technology. With a warm greeting and a wide smile, these collectors have been the epitome of top-notch customer service in the journey that finally came to an end recently.
They did not only hand over tickets to the customers but also helped them with directions and recommendations. Despite the conversion to cashless technology, various influential figures have commended the staff’s commitment to the job, such as Matthew J. Driscoll, the Executive Director of Thruway Authority.
In his words:
“The Thruway Authority has entered a modern era, but we will not forget the commitment of our toll collection staff and the impact they had on millions of customers over the decades.”
Benefits of E-Z Pass
It goes without saying that the emergence of the E-Z Pass has served consumers in many ways. For one, there is lesser traffic at toll booths since the process of collection is fast and seamless.
A typical E-Z Pass can easily process up to 300% more vehicles in each lane. As a result, there are fewer Toll Plaza delays, which means there are fewer auto emissions and overall reduced fuel consumption.
Several lanes allow customers to pass through while they maintain the stated highway speed. This has significantly added to the convenience and overall value of the E-Z Pass for many motorists.
Additionally, since there’s no need to pay with tickets, tokens, or cash, it further adds to the convenience of a motorist. The amount is deducted electronically from their prepaid account, preventing long waiting times and queues.
These prepaid accounts can also be credited through money orders, personal checks, credit cards, or cash from savings or checking accounts. It doesn’t end here.
Accounts are offered for both commercial and individual use. In a nutshell, E-Z Pass saves time and money for everyone involved in the process.
Where Else Can You Use E-Z Pass?
Apart from New York, E-Z Pass is also available in the following states.
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
How Much Does It Cost In New York
In New York, motorists are charged $1 per month for tracking tags and $6 annually for monthly statements. However, the tags are free if you get them from the Thruway Bridge Authority. Based on the area, the initial cost to get these tags can be between $25 and $30.
How to Setup Your Account
Now that we have the answer to “how does New York State E-Z Pass work?” it’s time to learn how to get the E-Z Pass for a seamless toll collection experience. Here is all the information you need to create your own account:
- Description of plan
- Method of payment
- Prepayment amount invoice
- Vehicle and personal information
The best way to get access to the application is through the E-Z Pass website or from local customer service centers. Then, go to the New York State’s website and choose your plan. A basic plan allows you to go through all bridges and roads, while a discount plan may only work on some bridges and roads. Based on New York State’s payment requirements, enter the credit card information, followed by the vehicle’s information and personal information. In the end, set up your PIN.
Is Paying Tolls Cheaper Than Using E-Z Pass?
Using E-Z Pass does not result in additional charges, and in most cases, customers pay the same amount as that at a physical toll booth. Paying lower tolls is possible on some roads and bridges if customers enroll in a discounted plan.
Based on the state’s law, you may need to take a certain number of trips to be eligible for discounts. Furthermore, you can save up to 5% on the cash rate on toll charges in New York State.
Once you have adequate knowledge of “how does the New York State E-Z Pass work?” you will realize all the benefits the technology offers. For one, you will no longer have to wait in the long toll road queues in New York. Once you’ve chosen a particular payment method, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of finding cash in your pocket or purse.
You can pass through the toll booth seconds after using the E-Z Pass. The E-Z Pass’s contribution to the state’s traffic plan and toll booth systems cannot be emphasized enough. While it did result in the laying off of staff, it marked the beginning of a brand-new era in New York’s toll collection history.