Lincoln Tunnel makes switch to cashless tolls, ending carpool discount
WEEHAWKEN, N.J. -- Toll booths at the Lincoln Tunnel became a thing of the past Sunday, as the last of six Port Authority crossings switched entirely to cashless tolls.
Drivers can pay with E-ZPass or be billed by mail.
"I'm one of the guys who probably wishes there was someone in the toll booth. There is an exchange when you talk to people in the toll booth. There's a moment when you say hello," said Joe Melanson, from North Bergen.
Most commuters rejoiced at the switch.
"I don't think anybody will miss it," one person said.
"I can't wait. I mean, cashless is the best," said another.
Instead of stopping to pay, drivers are now encouraged to maintain marked speeds as they approach overhead gantries.
Not much will change for E-ZPass users. Those without a transponder will get a bill in the mail. The new technology will capture an image of their license plates.
To avoid confusion, signs have been warning drivers about the change for weeks. The main message is slow down, but don't stop.
"It's just an easier, smoother drive," said Megan O'Donnell, from Weehawken.
The switch is expected to reduce commute times, emissions and the number of accidents at the crossing. In fact, crashes have decreased by 70% at other cashless-only crossings.
"When you have sudden stops, you know, this guy's got an E-ZPass, this guy's got cash, I think that might probably create incidents by the bridges and tunnels," said driver Saad Selloum.
It will take several years before the toll booths are completely removed so the demolition process doesn't disrupt traffic. Once the work is finished, drivers will be able to travel at open road speeds.
"Hoboken has a lot of traffic in and out from here and so it would be great if it didn't back up because it backs all the way up here and makes it hard to get it out," said Noelle Thurlow, from Hoboken.
Deactivation of the toll booths also means the carpool discount plan ended because current technology cannot determine the number of passengers in a car.
The Port Authority said it's working on solutions to address the issue.
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