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New York is getting rid of cash tollbooths at all its bridges and tunnels

Written by
Rebecca Fontana

By the end of 2017, all MTA tollbooths at bridges and tunnels in the New York area will become electronic only. The change will cost $500 million and will replace all tollbooths with digital readers. That means that your only two options will be paying with an E-ZPass or receiving a bill in the mail after your license plate is scanned. It seems like a no-brainer (paper is dying, everything is being digitized, get with the times, etc.), but hang on just a minute. 

For the past two years, the Henry Hudson Bridge has been testing out the practice, and some interesting discoveries were made. Of the people who received the bill by mail, two-thirds didn’t pay it. They just…ignored it. And since they only compromise six percent of drivers (they’re the same people who still use flip phones, probably), the loss isn’t significant enough for the MTA to really bother doing anything about it.

So does it mean that since nobody is paying for tolls, everyone with an E-ZPass is a sucker? Well, we’re not telling you to not pay tolls, but we’re not telling you not to not pay tolls.

And the update will still be a success despite toll evaders—the new tolls will save commuters an average of 21 hours of sitting in traffic annually and could reduce carbon monoxide concentration levels by 37 percent. Time to start planning a road trip!  

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