E-ZPass® is a toll-collection system that enables motorists to pay their tolls electronically through pre-established accounts prepaid and replenished with a credit card or check. It is now accepted by 37 toll agencies in 16 Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest states. More than 30 million E-ZPass® devices are currently in circulation and the number grows each year.
E-ZPass® makes driving more convenient. It reduces travel times, decreases motor-vehicle emissions, and helps motorists cut down on fuel costs. Motorists also may qualify for a monthly toll discount if they regularly commute across a Commission toll bridge using an agency-affiliated E-ZPass® tag (account maintained by the New Jersey Regional E-ZPass® Customer Service Center).
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission strives to improve its toll collection system as equipment ages and better technologies become available.
For example, the Commission established Express E-ZPass facilities (“open-road tolling”) at its I-78 and I-80 toll plazas in 2010. This already has enabled millions of E-ZPass users to pay their tolls while driving at highway speeds. A Violation Enforcement System of high-resolution cameras and specially aimed lights to identify toll scofflaws was installed the same year, enabling the Commission to remove toll gates at its various facilities.
In late 2015, the Commission kicked off a multi-year design-build-maintain contract for a complete overhaul of the agency’s toll collection system infrastructure. The modernization effort will touch virtually every aspect of the agency’s toll system: manual cash collections, conventional toll-lane E-ZPass transactions, highway-speed open-road tolling, and future all-electronic tolling at the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge. The project will swap out the Commission’s aged toll-collection infrastructure and replace it with the latest equipment and technology in the tolling industry.
The project will be divided into two phases. The first involves the design, development, integration, installation and testing of a collection system to handle cash and electronic transactions at the Commission’s seven toll bridges. This work also will extend to the establishment of an all-electronic tolling system at a future eighth toll bridge – the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge, the first span of which is expected to become operational in 2019. The new, improved system also will include integration with host computers at the New Jersey Regional Customer Service Center for E-ZPass, which currently provides back-office support and violation enforcement for the Commission’s toll network. The second will involve the maintenance of all the newly installed equipment and operating systems for five years with two additional three‐year options. It also will cover the maintenance of existing toll plaza equipment such as LED signage, lane signal indicators and yellow beacons.
In 2019, the Commission plans to become the country’s next toll agency providing all-electronic tolling at one of its facilities when the first span of the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge reaches completion. The new bridge’s AET system will consist of an overhead gantry outfitted with electronic-toll-collection transponder readers, high-resolution cameras, and lights. Motorists with E-ZPass will pay their tolls electronically at highway speeds and will be charged the base rate. Motorists without E-ZPass will have their license plates photographed – at highway speeds – and will receive bills in the mail (Pay-By-Plate). Toll rates for non-E-ZPass-equipped vehicles will be higher than what E-ZPass users pay due to additional processing costs. Conventional, congestion-prone toll booths will not be employed.
AET is increasingly being used in other states and countries. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission already operates E-ZPass-only facilities at certain interchanges and it has constructed a cashless tolling facility to collect tolls at its Delaware River crossing in lower Bucks County. Cashless tolling collections at this tolling point began January 3, 2016. Among other AET systems in use today are the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Australia), Maryland’s Intercounty Connector/MD 200, and along toll roads in Florida, Texas and California.
An automatic 40 percent discount – 60 cents instead of the base $1 toll – is extended to eligible DRJTBC E-ZPass tag holders who make 16 trips through a Commission toll plaza each month. The discount also applies to anyone who has an E-ZPass administered through the New Jersey Regional E-ZPass Customer Service Center: New Jersey Turnpike, DRPA, DR&BA, SJTA and the Burlington County Bridge Commission.
Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission affiliated E-ZPass transponders are issued by the New Jersey E-ZPass Group, which services the DRJTBC, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Delaware River Port Authority, Delaware River & Bay Authority, South Jersey Transportation Authority and Burlington County Bridge Commission.