MTA 2011 Highlights: Improvements for Our Bridges and Tunnels Customers

In 2011, the MTA focused on delivering on some long-promised benefits for our 8.5 million customers. This is the seventh in a daily series that recaps the best of 2011.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels is taking dramatic steps toward a simple goal; New York drivers never again getting stuck in traffic waiting to pay a toll on an MTA bridge or tunnel. Although this may sound like nothing more than pure fantasy, it's actually right in front of us. New improvements in 2011 included:

Henry Hudson Gateless Toll

All-electronic tolling: This pilot project at the Henry Hudson Bridge began with Phase I removal of gates in January 2011. The second phase, which is cashless, is expected to occur sometime this spring. Data collected from the pilot will be used to evaluate its success and guide future policy decisions regarding all-electronic tolling at MTA's other crossings.

Expansion of E-ZPass On The Go: This program is aimed at increasing E-ZPass market share by allowing customers to purchase a pre-paid E-ZPass tag at participating retailers and, in a pilot program, at cash lanes at the Henry Hudson Bridge. The Henry Hudson pilot program proved immensely popular, with 7,500 On The Go tags sold in four months, and will be expanded to all crossings by mid-2012.

E-ZPass Tag Replacement program: This program, which began at the end of 2010, ensures that tags are replaced before the internal sealed battery reaches the end of its useful life, which would result in motorists being delayed at gated crossings. Through October, some 650,000 tags have been mailed to MTA E-ZPass customers. The E-ZPass swap program will continue in 2012.

Travel Time Information: New electronic message signs with real travel time information to major regional destinations and connecting highways were put in place at the Robert F. Kennedy, Verrazano-Narrows, Henry Hudson and Throgs Neck Bridges. More signs are slated to be put up at these facilities as well as the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnels and Bronx-Whitestone Bridge in 2012.

In addition to tag replacement, B&T, in partnership with the E-ZPass Inter- Agency Group, representing 24 tolling agencies in 14 states and one border crossing, signed a new contract which significantly lowers the cost of purchasing tags. This will produce a savings of $9.3 million in 2011 and $1.9 million in 2012.

B&T also reduced its vehicle fleet as part of an MTA-wide initiative in 2011, which will generate an additional $2.3 million in savings through 2012.