Parkway Targets Toll Cheats, Shuts Lanes

toll-roadNew Jersey Turnpike Authority officials are going after toll cheats by closing exact-change lanes on entrance and exit ramps on the Garden State Parkway, which have been used increasingly by the cheats since last spring. The toll evaders have cost the authority $1.032 million during the first eight months of 2009, officials said. The increase in toll violations in the automatic coin machine lanes was attributed to the bad economy and a December 2008 toll increase, authority spokesman Joe Orlando said in an e-mail. Parkway officials┬ástarted closing exact-change lanes on the ramps last August, requiring drivers to use lanes staffed by toll collectors, Orlando said. The change was done so overtime or new hires weren’t required, he said. The amount of money lost to toll evaders started to drop.

“After the implementation of the program, the Authority lost about $94,000 per month in toll revenue as the result of toll evaders,” he said.

The Parkway has 39 ramps, which are not the same as toll plazas on the main highway, he said.

The lane closures generated some complaints from motorists about waiting in the cash lane to pay an exact-change toll. So the Turnpike Authority went to the videotape, Orlando said, checking cameras at locations identified by drivers and reviewing exactly when these motorists passed through.

“The authority confirmed that the motorists who called in were not subject to queues of more than three to four vehicles and a total wait time of no more than 15 to 20 seconds,” he said. “Although this program is still in effect, the authority has received almost no inquiries over the past month.”

Toll cheats cost the authority a total of $13.9 million in 2008, a figure which hasn’t been calculated yet for 2009, Orlando said.

State Police declined to detail how they catch toll evaders, but said they are cited when caught, said Sgt. Julian Castellanos, State Police spokesman.

“We enforce the statutes,” he said. “You will get a ticket.”

State Police Troop E, which patrols the Parkway, issued 18,085 summonses to toll evaders in 2009, a slight drop from the 18,268 tickets handed out in 2008, according to the most recent activities report filed with the authority. Read full article in APP.

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