Have you read or heard about the $1 billion in “revenue actions” announced in January 2018 and designed to offset this year’s “challenging” New York State budget? One of the items within the proposal is cashless tolling — the ability to collect tolls without toll booths. The plan is to add these high tech collection points throughout the Thruway Authority System, one of the largest tolled highway systems in the U.S.
This has prompted the oversight committee for Bridges Authority Tollway & Thruway (BATTY) to propose installing cashless tolls on the Twin Bridges, providing funds directly to Northway maintenance.
This month, the Grand Island Bridges near Buffalo, NY are being converted to a complete cashless tolling system. Drivers with an E-ZPass get the toll amount deducted from their accounts, and those without have their vehicles photographed and receive a toll bill in the mail.
“We are proposing a similar system for the Twin Bridges,” says Falaso Savage, spokesperson for BATTY. “More than 100,000 drivers a day cross the bridges, and cashless tolling will allow us to recoup maintenance costs directly from the people who use these bridges.”
BATTY anticipates there will be plenty of opposition. One such group is TDTB (Tear Down The Bridges) which plans to fight the monetization through grassroots efforts. Its founder, Valente Skor, says the name of the group is meant to show how strongly the group opposes the measure.
“We are circulating petitions and trying to make sure everyone understands the slippery slope cashless tolling puts us on,” states Skor. “What next? A charge every time you enter and exit the Northway? We’ll tear down the bridges before we give in to paying tolls!”
While it’s unlikely such an extreme measure could gain much support, BATTY is ‘battening the hatches’ in preparation for negative public opinion.
“Of course we expect people to be upset,” stated Savage. “However, the ability to keep traffic moving while gaining much needed funds is too good to pass up.”
We don’t know about you, but we think that statement certainly echoes the Committee’s acronym – it’s very batty indeed.
*The preceding story is fabricated in celebration of April Fools’ Day, popular for good-humored practical jokes of varying sophistication. Except the part about the $1 billion in revenue actions and the cashless tolling being installed throughout the Thruway system and on the Grand Island Bridges. That is real.