RIP Parkway exact change lanes
With all the charm of a rigged boardwalk game, the exact change baskets on the Garden State Parkway have been a thorn in the sides of drivers for years. For those who didn't take the toll roads often enough to make sense of an E-ZPass, the exact change lanes were the logical choice over the more time consuming manned booths. For a long time though, they haven't worked well. How many times have you tossed in the exact change and the electronic sign never read PAID. Many drivers, wary of 'administrative fees', grudgingly tossed in more. And sometimes, more still.
Like it or not, those exact change lanes will soon be a thing of the past. Move over walkman, VHS tape and rotary dial phone. There's a newbie in the dustbin of history.
Starting this month, those baskets will be replaced with either E-ZPass-only lanes or full service, manned lanes. They will remain only on entry and exit ramps, but the main Parkway will be stripped of them. Two plazas a week will be changed, and by next year the project should be long over.
If you're feeling a bit nostalgic, stop and ask yourself how well you remember Parkway Tokens. If you found them now you'd mistake them for Chuck E. Cheese tokens. You'd get a slight price break by buying a roll of them. They stopped making them years ago. The very last tokens were sold in 2001. Now you probably don't even remember much about them. It will be that way with the exact change baskets. We'll get used to it.
Why the change? The NJ Turnpike Authority says they have become expensive and difficult to maintain and are "nearing the end of their useful lives." Not even 5% use those coin lanes, and 83% of those who pass through the toll plazas are E-ZPass customers. I'm sure a few of those baskets will end up in some man caves.
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