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New York City Cashless Tolls May Spawn Congestion Pricing

New York City will have nine crossings void of tollbooths and tellers, relying solely on sensors and cameras to charge drivers, the majority of which have E-ZPass transponders. The accomplishment is seen as the first step in moving toward congestion pricing, something the mayor of the city is staunchly against, reported The New York Times.

According to the newspaper, drivers who do not have an E-ZPass will be charged an additional 10 percent via a bill through the mail. New York City is emerging as one of the most ambitious in the digital payment push, which, in turn, has paved the way toward congestion pricing.

The idea is that drivers on toll roads would be charged for driving in congested areas of Manhattan traffic. The government under then Mayor Bloomberg proposed congestion pricing a decade ago, but the technology was just starting to take off. Now, thanks to the proliferation of sensors and powerful cameras, running a cashless tollbooth system is a reality.

In the New York City system, lasers, cameras and sensors are placed across the roadways with the ability to capture license plates and read E-ZPass tags. Sensors in the road can tell how many axles a vehicle has, reported the New York Times.

There is opposition to it from current Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been against it from the start. Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, has been swayed, embracing congestion pricing and cashless tollbooths to raise funds for a subway system that is ailing and need in billions of dollars in upgrades.

While details of the pricing plan has yet to be revealed, the New York Times reported one idea being talked about is charging vehicles that enter toll roads and congested areas of the city in a way in which Manhattan traffic would not be impacted. Governor Andrew Cuomo is hoping he can get the idea through this time around, noted the report.

The cashless tollbooths in and of themselves are expected to bring some benefits to New York City’s congested roadways. Sure, it won’t rid the city of its notorious traffic, but it will greatly increase the number of cars that can go through the tolls. According to the New York Times, under the new system, roughly 850 cars will be able to go through the cashless tollbooths per hour, up from 250 vehicles.

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