Skip to comments.E-ZPass Sucks
Posted on 12/16/2001 7:30:57 AM PST by ml/nj
This is a tale of bad faith, or possibly fraud, on the part of the government which collects highway tolls here in the northeast. But for those outside the northeast, I should probably explain first what E-ZPass is. And before I do that I should also explain that we are routinely stopped while driving on our highways here by highwaymen demanding tribute. The highwaymen here call the tribute "tolls," but a rose by any other name ... you know. If I want to drive from my home in New Jersey to Belmont Park on Long Island, about an hour away, I must pay $11 to $13 tribute during the course of my round trip.
It's not just the money that is stolen from me. They steal my time too. It is not uncommon to have to wait a half hour to pay a fifty cent toll to leave the New Jersey Turnpike. Even a person who makes minimum wage loses $3 every time this happens, but to the people who whine about the minimum wagers that time is worthless.
Under the guise of making things better, the highwaymen have come up with a new system they call E-ZPass. Drivers request and receive transponders linked to their credit cards, and optionally to their license plates too. Cars equiped with these transponders can drive through special lanes which can detect the transponders without stopping. (Usually there is a speed limit of five to 15 mph to drive through.) Of course "special lanes" don't just materialize by themselves, especially on roadways leading to bridges and tunnels where real-estate is scarce. "Special lanes" are created from lanes where cash had formerly been accepted. It is so bad that on one recent trip through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into Manhattan on a Saturday evening, it appeared to me that there was only one lane accepting cash.
Fortunately (?) for me, I had already acquired an E-ZPass transponder so I did not have to find out how long the poor people on that line had to wait to use the tunnel and, in fact, the growing waits to pay with cash is what drove me to get my transponder.
I had resisted E-ZPass for as long as I could. I don't like the idea of an electronic record being made of my comings and goings. I'm not doing anything I shouldn't be doing. I just don't like it. I think most Freepers will understand. I also believe the entire system to be illegal. One of the legal principles of our monetary system is a concept known as legal tender. Legal tender is that which must be accepted by law for goods, services, or debts. In the United States, one must accept Federal Reserve Notes, just as if they were the equivalent gold or silver coin they pretend to be. Refusal to accept legal tender voids the debt. Paper money is so ingrained in our psyches that one has to reach for a history book to read of times where merchants would accept only gold or silver, and they would refuse to accept paper claimed to be equivalent. When the government would force the merchants to accept the paper, it would hardly have tolerated a scheme where the merchant said he would accept the legal tender if the purchaser would just cool his heels for half an hour while some low level clerk figured out how to account for the payment, but gold and silver was accepted immediately. The E-ZPass scheme is no different.
Now, on to the bad faith ...
Back in October, shortly after I received my E-ZPass transponder, I drove down to Virginia from New Jersey. The tolls begin as soon as one gets on the Garden State Parkway and they don't stop until he gets through one of the Baltimore tunnels. All of the highwaymen, about ten in each direction, now accept E-ZPass. One of the places that accepts E-ZPass is the Delaware Memorial Bridge. I don't cross it very often. I don't recall what the toll is. I don't even recall if it is collected in both directions.
Last week I received a "Notice of Toll Violation" on a piece of paper bearing logos of both "E-ZPass" and the "Delaware River and Bay Authority." They tell me, "Your licence plate was recorded by the system for violation(s) listed below. Our records indicate that your vehicle used the 'E-ZPass Only' land without a valid E-ZPass account or failed to pay the required toll in a staffed lane. In addition to the toll, a $25 administrative fee has been imposed for each violation listed below."
Now I guess their equipment failed to register my transponder on my return trip. It is completley within their ability to have matched my license plate to my E-ZPass account and have sent me a note that they were charging my account an extra $3 because they detected this mistake on the part of their equipment.
Instead they pretend that they tracked me down through the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles database which matches my license plate, my address and me. Of couse they have all of this information in their own, presumably smaller database which is probably where they got the information from anyway. They even have a record of my having passed through the toll barriers just before and after the one in question, duly recorded by their equipment and entered into their database. I guess they just forgot to look. In their notice to me they never consider the possibility that I might have one of their transponders even though I would guess that the ratio of "violators" who have an E-ZPass transponder and weren't detected to those who are actually trying to beat the toll is quite high. But some government fool thinks this is a fun new way to exact tribute from the little people.
If there's some lawyer here on Free Republic who wants to take these people on with the intent of dismantling the whole system, I might be willing to make myself a test case.
Actually "they" have had a similar capability for a number of years, and "they" have used it too.
Everytime one enters one of the major NY to Chicago "turnpikes" he gets a ticket stamped with the entry time. That ticket has to be surrendered (or I guess one could say he lost it, and accept the maximum toll) and the total time to traverse a known distance can be determined. My father was once riding in a car that was given a ticket for completing the Pennsylvania Turnpike at an average 66 mph. The driver protested that it was only one mph over the limit, and was told that he must have forgotten about all those 35 mph tunnels. (This was circa 1960.)
Just out of curiousity I asked them what they would do to me if I refused to pay the fee. They said that there really wasn't anything they COULD do except cancel my EZPass, because the fees weren't authorized by law (they thought them up themselves). Not sure if this is still the case, but I got them to waive the fees and take the charge off my bill.
Yikes! Thank god you're not in IL or you could be talking about me!
There's the difference between States. The tolls on the Virginia Beach Expressway, the Norfolk (Va.) tunnels, and I-95 through Richmond were all lifted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is still toll for a very good reason: maintenance is horribly expensive. Not sure why Rte 267 from Washington to Leesburg is still toll, but it surely is the best maintained highway in northern Virginia.
Shusssss! Now you did it. They 'heard' you in Hartford. Next thing you know they will implement ONLY an E-Z Pass system. Hartford has spent like there's no tomorrow and they're clobbering the residents and businesses as we speak.
I did that once, intentionally. I had lost one hour in standstill traffic at 11 pm waiting to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge. The kids had been asleep, and this delay woke them up. There was no way I was going to pay them $3 for this mess. Never heard about it since.
The REAL robbers don't need guns. They have the police to do their dirty work.
You get the same situation if you leave Maryland on US 301 - you have to pay a toll to cross the Potomac River going from Maryland to Virginia, but it's free if you're going the other way.
Having driven in NY & NJ recently, I do appreciate your position, though. I would be angry as hell to have to pay those confiscatory rates (every few miles, it seems) in addition to income taxes, sales taxes, etc. The bridges are a joke. The $6 round trip on the GW across the Hudson (paid eastbound) collected from so many thousands of cars weekly ought to be enough to gold-plate the damned bridge by now. OTOH, I never much cared for toll takers who rarely said "thank you", but rather looked at you like you just interrupted their favorite TV show.
For yea in those days, they shall neither buy nor sell save they that bear the mark of the beast on their windshield or on their dash.
I replied, "Robbers usually use a gun."
The "muscle" that backs her is packing heat.