BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The day New York Thruway commuters have been waiting for is finally here–the beginning of the end for toll booths on the state superhighway, as the Thruway goes all-cashless.
Starting late Friday night, those aging Thruway toll barriers are going to fade into history, as modern technology takes over the task of collecting tolls.
The toll collectors are being replaced by electronic gantries that read E-ZPass windshield transponders, or for those without E-ZPass, they will record pictures of the license plates on their cars.
Matthew Driscoll, Executive Director of the New York State Thruway Authority, described the new toll taking system, “On those gantries are a series of equipment, cameras, laser beams, treadles embedded in the road. All of those have a separate function in terms of measuring the height of a vehicle, counting the axles of a vehicle.”
Drivers have complained Thruway technology for matching license plates to their owners has been less-than-precise over the years, but Driscoll says the new equipment is much improved.
“These cameras on this new system have the highest and best resolution anywhere. We don’t see that as an issue. We have been testing already, we have not spotted any issue.”
The license plates are then matched with the vehicle’s owner in the State Department of Motor Vehicles’ database, and the owner gets a bill in the mail.
Thruway officials are encouraging drivers to sign up for E-ZPass which provides a discount on the tolls, and is less cumbersome than paying by mail, but Driscoll cautions Thruway commuters as the old toll plazas come down, drivers will need to make adjustments.
“There is some pavement work that needs to be done, realignment work that needs to be done. There will be lane shifts so there will be minor impacts but at the end of the day it is going to be a much more efficient transportation system for everybody.”
Until the toll barriers come down, Driscoll warns drivers they are still required to obey the speed limit going through the travel lanes. Thruway officials expect the toll plazas to be removed by next summer.