I’ve spent over 40 years in the transportation industry and have seen just about everything, but one thing I saw in my early days stuck with me. And what I saw, and learned, can help you get to your long weekend getaway over the Fourth of July holiday.
I was working as Director of Tunnels, Bridges and bus Terminals for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and was in charge of a variety of projects including operations, administration, and tolling for the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, and several other facilities. This extensive transportation network handles more than 1.5 million customers per day.
Everybody knows the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day and Labor Day are busy travel weekends. But one Mother’s Day I saw some traffic backups on bridges and tunnels I managed. It was not because of any accidents, technical problems or construction – it was drivers waiting in line to pay cash for their tolls! I’ve never seen a AAA travel estimate for the number of folks who travel on Mother’s Day, but I can tell you the number of drivers who venture out that weekend without some sort of electronic toll transponder to automatically pay their tolls is huge.
Whether it’s E-ZPass in the Northeast, SunPass in Florida or FasTrak in the West – why anyone would wait in line to pay tolls with cash is beyond me, when they can pay electronically by setting up and maintaining an account with a credit card.
Some roads are now going all electronic for tolling. At Xerox we’re working with the state of Maryland on the Intercounty Connector (ICC). They don’t accept cash there. You either have an electronic transponder or get a bill in the mail based on the license plate and who the car is registered to. It’s cheaper and faster to have an account.
At Xerox we knew a lot about tolling – and helping get folks to where they are going faster. We designed, built and integrated some of the first electronic toll systems. We have implemented electronic toll collection projects in New York, New Jersey, Georgia and California. We work on more than 2000 tolling lanes and processes over $4.0 billion in ETC transactions per year on average – that is over 50% of all ETC transactions in the United States.
So if you’re travelling this Fourth of July holiday weekend smile and wave as you pass those poor souls stuck in toll traffic in a “cash only” lane and thank Xerox for getting you there faster.