The MTA has long been known as the region’s laggard when it comes to high-speed tolling. Virtually every other agency in the region that runs highways, bridges, or tunnels has begun to implement toll plazas that allow cars to drive through at close to highway speeds. When cars don’t have to stop to pay a toll, toll plazas become safer, emissions are reduced, and traffic flows more smoothly. But at the MTA’s crossings, drivers have always had to stop for the familiar barrier arms. Until today.
This morning, MTA Chairman Jay Walder ceremonially detached a barrier arm from a toll booth on the Henry Hudson Bridge connecting the Bronx and Manhattan, marking the beginning of an MTA pilot program to test gateless — and, ultimately, cashless — tolling. Walder announced the pilot project last year, soon after arriving to run the agency.
“Removal of the Henry Hudson toll booths provides another example of MTA CEO Jay Walder’s ability to bring innovation to the MTA and our regional transportation network,” Tri-State executive director Kate Slevin said at the ceremony. “This move will speed travel times and improve safety for drivers while reducing congestion and pollution at toll facilities.”
The booths will remain through the first phase of the pilot, and cars will travel through the plaza at 15 mph. Cash lanes will be eliminated in the next phase; drivers without EZ-Pass will have their license plates photographed and get the bill in the mail. (To switch more drivers to EZ-Pass, the agency says it is will also introduce a way for drivers to reload their accounts by paying cash at retail stores.) The use of cameras to collect tolls would likely require state approval.
Photo: Via MTA.