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.
Are you fighting this??
Yes, E-ZPass does suck. If you get a response here from an attorney, keep me posted.
(But if you hire an attorney, best confer with him first.)
If this is all you have to bitch about, stop bitching and be glad you have what you have.
PS: Going to the racetrack at Belmont Park seems to remove any sympathy vote......
What really p!$$e$ me off is that it killed my campaign for Maine (highest tax burden state in the US) to "Tax the Tourists"! "Yes Sir, that'll be $10 cash to enter/leave the state."
I'm curious. How many times would you say you have sucessfully gone through GSP barriers with E-ZPass? I'm interested in their failure rate. (I don't drive on the toll roads that often to have a sense of this myself.)
I am aware of others who seldom use the Parkway but have received notices similar to the ones you have received. At least the GSP seems to consider the possibility that you may not be a "violator," but they don't bother to match your license plate (or name and address, if you didn't specify a license plate) with the information in their own database either. As far as I am concerned that's bad faith too.
I replied, "Robbers usually use a gun."
Shame on Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey for these tolls!
I don't know where in VA you go, or where exactly you live, but when we go to Richmond, we also sometimes take I-78 to I-81 and cut over on 17 at Winchester back to I-95. It cuts out all tolls except for the one across the Delaware River at Easton. That toll is 50 cents one way for now. They are going to raise it to $1.00 and do away with tokens. That is a pleasant ride compared to going through all the major cities.
Why is it that on one way tolls they are always out of NJ? It costs us to leave, but is free to come in!!
If you think this is bad, just wait until a National ID is imposed on all of us.
No...shame on the people who live there and allow the politicians to do this.
What's this supposed to mean?
Is your life so shallow that you think that all who attend the races are degenerates of some sort? I was there for the Breeders' Cup races, which were held in New York for the first time since 1995. These are now broadcast around the world, and people travel here from all over the world to attend. I met and spoke with several from a huge group of Englishmen who made a 48 hour trip to the USA for no other purpose than to watch these races in person. If they merely wanted to, oooh, gamble they could have visited any turf accountant on their own shore and watched on their own TV's. They recognize some beauty in life which you deny. Too bad for you. Go get a copy of Jay Privman's beautiful Breeders' Cup book and open your eyes.
I live on Long Island and this is the reason I refuse to get EZPass. BTW, recently I have experienced very little or no wait time at the cash only toll booths.
If a person has to keep track of a spouse like that, they have much bigger problems than tolls.
Well, this is sort of a regional ID, and in some ways more invidious than a national ID card. No one says their detectors only have to be placed only at toll barriers. But some here think it's silly to worry about the government knowing whatever it wishes to know about us. They want to make it easy for future Clintons to blackmail whomever they want to blackmail whenever they feel the need to blackmail them.
Summary: E-Z Pass is a risk to anyone who uses it.It does not tell you if it detected the transponder.
Yes, it does. You have to wait until the stoplight turns green, which indicates that the transponder has been detected.
That's exactly what the lawmakers intended. The lawmakers are all lawyers.
If out dear lawmakers had our best interests at heart, they would see that the most economically efficient thing to do would be to make the roads free, which would result in higher productivity and a larger tax base. But they are scheming lawyers, a.k.a. middlemen, a.k.a. moneychangers, a.k.a. f@#$ers.
At least Connecticut had the sense to remove the tolls on the turnpike and the Hartford area bridges.
You are spidering plexiglass with a single punch?
I wanna set you up in a bout with RaceBannon. RaceBannon is a big tough Marine, 6 foot infinity and 250+ of muscle, so this should be interesting. I wanna organize it and promote it: "The BigKill in FreepVille."
I wanna wear my hair like Don King and say "Only in America" all the time.
With the exception of Florida, you would be hard-pressed to find a toll road or toll bridge in the southern United States.
In 1991 I made a USA road tour with my family. We hit 30 states plus Ontario, and drove just over 8000 miles. We got as far west as Las Vegas (omitting California because we had made a separate family trip there earlier that year). I thought it might be interesting to collect various items as trip souveniers and so I started a toll receipt collection. It wasn't much of a collection. After I left New York State, I think I paid one toll to reneter the US north of Detroit, and then single tolls entering and leaving Chicago. That was it. I never paid another toll.
That's why I explained things the way I did. There's a reason why folks in LA call them "freeways," you know.
Not quite accurate. This is how some E-ZPass booths work. Here in NJ, I understand that if you are detected it says "EZPASS PAID" or some such, and if you are not detected it just says "GO." They don't want people slamming on their brakes with another victim following closely behind. When one drives on roads outside his own normal driving area there is no way to know how the system will react, if it reacts at all.
Believe me. The thought has occurred to me that the only people who do get notices are the ones in their own database.
My opinion would change on a dime on my first receipt of a nasty-gram, however. They're fools if they allow this to remain a problem for users; their focus right now should be on making the system more popular. A substantial toll discount would be one way to go about it; they're saving money on toll collectors, so why not pass along the savings?
As for the congestion problem, it will ultimately shorten the wait time for the remaining cash lanes as the system gains popularity. Right now it's a pinch because so few people use EZpass, but that will change.
As for the "tracking" problem, it does concern me, but it's easily defeated in a pinch. The day I suspect that the government is seriously interested in my whereabouts is the day I loan my transponder to a trusted friend.
I will tell you that the track is a true republic, you either have a winning ticket or you don't, there is no getting by on one's looks or who one knows like you must be used to.
It might be nice, but I a mindful that I am passing by fellow citizens made miserable by our government. It makes it not so nice for me. If the government cannot employ enough people, and construct enough toll booths, so that those who have to pay don't have to wait, then they should find some other way to pay for the roads. The government routinely thinks that the citizen's time is worthless. I'm sure I spend a couple of hundred hours collecting information for the taxman (and then I have to pay someone $1000+ to put it all together because it's way too complicated for this Freeper with a couple of Math Degrees to do himself). It's involuntary servitude or, in the case of the tolls, false imprisonment.
No, no, no! We have to be #1 in something.
According to the taxfoundation we have the highest TAX BURDEN per capita in the US.
We are 37th in income and patently HOSTILE to business.
In education we don't do to badly, but those lucky recipients of that "blue chip" learning experience wind up being smart enough to move the hell away.
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