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Drivers Cry Foul After Learning Of E-ZPass Discount Deception

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Thanksgiving is a week away and AAA estimates 41 million drivers will hit the road for the holiday. Many with E-ZPass will face a discount deception once they cross state lines.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Wednesday, many drivers do not realize that if they cross state lines, the discount might just disappear. On Thursday, he hit the road to talk to commuters.

Stuck in traffic leaving the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, Aiello found New Jersey drivers under an expensive assumption about E-ZPass.

"Oh, I think I got a discount but I've no idea!" New Jersey resident Karen Wolack said.

The E-ZPass toll at MTA crossings such as the Midtown Tunnel is $5.33, but only if you have an E-Z-Pass issued by New York. New Jersey-issued E-ZPasses are charged the cash toll of $7.50.

"That's unfair. It's the New York Tri-State Area," Wolack said.

And it works in reverse, Aiello reported. Since 2011, a New York-issued pass doesn't get you a discount on the New Jersey Turnpike.

If you drive the entire length at midday, a New York E-Z-Pass will be charged $13.85. The same trip for a New Jersey-issued E-ZPass costs $10.40.

"Nobody realized they were getting the short end of the stick," City Councilman Alan Maisel said.

Maisel worked on this issue two years ago when he was an assemblyman in Albany, sponsoring a bill to restore New York E-ZPass discounts to New Jersey drivers and encouraging New Jersey to return the favor.

"The argument was, 'Well if we get it passed in New York, that would put pressure on New Jersey'. That's fair, that's reasonable," Maisel said.

But the bill died, in part because MTA and the Turnpike Authority say they can't afford to offer additional discounts, Aiello reported.

Court challenges have also failed so the only way to get a discount on all the tolls in the two states is to get two E-ZPasses: one from New York, another from New Jersey.

On the East Coast, several states do still give out-of-state drivers the E-ZPass discount, including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

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