New E-ZPass App is exactly why NJ needs to modernize its tolls (Opinion)
I think it's fair to say New Jersey's tolls aren't going anywhere. Yes, we all know they were meant to be temporary and we were promised they'd be removed back when the parkway first opened.
Fast forward to the introduction of E-ZPass. A system meant to make commuting on New Jersey's roadways move convenient.
And now, E-ZPass has introduced an app that will let you receive a receipt within 24 hours of the tolls you recently traveled through (you can read all about the new E-ZPass app by clicking here).
The only problem with New Jersey is this. We can't seem to move into the future in a consistent way. Here are some of the issues with New Jersey's toll roads now, and why we need to modernize even more.
Let's start with the Garden State Parkway and its change baskets. They've now been limited to the on-ramps and off-ramps.
Part of the reason they were moved off the main plazas has to do with maintenance. Parts to maintain the baskets are either expensive or hard to get.
Toll amounts are ridiculous
For those of you that don't have E-ZPass, you're often left with no option but to have exact change at the on-ramps or off-ramps.
Think about this for a minute. Your typical car toll may cost 65 cents, 95 cents, or $1.90 at most on-ramps or off-ramps. Why can't the fare be an even amount, such as 50 or 75 cents? Wouldn't that make it easier?
And also, who carries around $1.90 in exact change? At least the NJ Turnpike has a system in place where you don't have to drive around with buckets of change.
Sometimes, you have no option but to take the violation
So you don't have E-ZPass, but all other lanes are closed. What do you do? You drive through an E-ZPass lane and prepare to fight the violation.
In my opinion, the toll-by-mail system doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I mean, isn't it more expensive to process using the postal service in the first place?
When it comes to modernizing New Jersey's toll roads, this is something we should steer clear of.
Apps can now track everything
If there's anything this new E-ZPass app proves is that New Jersey is taking another step forward, which is good. But we need to take it further.
If we truly want to become cashless on NJ's toll roads, we need better options for those without E-ZPass.
Different methods to pay at the toll plazas
One thing I've never understood is why you can't pay by credit card at the toll lanes. Or one better, why we can't process payment through a smartphone? It certainly makes more sense than using scrap parts to keep those ancient change baskets working.
And, it wouldn't have to be staffed since something like this can be implemented electronically. Even the old-fashioned ticket system on the NJ Turnpike could be updated so all of NJ's toll roads utilize the same technology.
Yes, we were promised tolls wouldn't exist anymore, but we all know that'll never happen. If we must have them, we should at least be a leader in how we execute toll collection on our roadways.
Hopefully, this new app is a sign that we're heading in the right direction.