As part of a recent trend, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel officially went cashless on Tuesday, January 10. Before that date, drivers could either pay with cash or E-ZPass. Now, the toll booths have been eliminated. Drivers without E-ZPass will be mailed a bill, and people with E-ZPass will continue to have their payments deducted electronically. Signage near the former toll booth area has been plentiful, indicating to drivers that they should not stop.
Scanning machines have been placed on the Manhattan side of the tunnel. These devices will be able to take pictures of every vehicle that passes through the tunnel, and a computer system will determine where the bill will need to be mailed to. This scanning technology will also allow police officers to identify drivers with unpaid tolls.
While an effective means of collecting money, having toll booths can contribute to traffic backups. A corresponding problem to the traffic is increased pollution. After the change to cashless tolls, transportation and city officials are hopeful that vehicular movement in and out of Manhattan and Queens will be more efficient and that drivers will notice the improvements.
The price of the tolls has not changed, but this transition serves as a reminder to local residents that using E-ZPass can result in a 30% – 50% discount on tolls.
The first local bridge or tunnel to go cashless was the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, and the Rockaway, RFK, and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges are set to follow the others this spring and summer. In the fall, the Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone Bridges will go cashless as well.