January 19, 2022

Comparing 3 states based on how they billed us for skipping the toll booths on a recent trip to NYC.

Pennsylvania — charged $0 and advised that we'll have to pay next time.

New York — required to pay the toll amount ($16).

New Jersey — must pay the toll amount — $3.95 and $9.85 — plus a $50 administrative fee — with the amounts billed separately and the administrative fee charged twice. That's $100 extra on top of $13.80 in tolls.

NOTE: There was no option to stop and pay the toll. There was no one in the booth, presumably because of Covid.

82 comments:

Ice Nine said...

Send NJ the two tolls plus a few bucks for their envelopes and stamps, and tell them to go fish on the ripoff admin fees.

Paul G said...

This doesn't deserve a "Federalism" tag?

Unknown said...

In the fall, I pre-registered with NY "pay by plate" for a trip that I needed to make, and then about 2 months later got a $0 bill by email from them -- they had not noted that license plate going through any toll gantries.

Subsequently I received a bill by US-Mail that did correctly note all of the toll-gantries that I passed under, which managed to find me in spite of 3 changes-of-address on the vehicle registration in a short time.

I'm suspecting that by registering for the time-period that I expected to be traveling, they closed out my bill on the end-day of that period even though they would not actually compile the data from the toll gantries until weeks later. Fortunately the bill then compiled did find me, in spite of the address-change.

Temujin said...

Cousin Vinnie's got a new vacation home to build in Florida.

RideSpaceMountain said...

If you hate tolls, for the love of all that's holy, avoid Oklahoma at all costs. They will henpeck you for the change in your console the lint in your pockets before letting you through to find a gas station ATM on reservation land that will charge you $10 to withdraw $20.

The "Beware Blowing Smoke" signs should be a dead giveaway that you have entered a dystopian hellscape where tolls are high and the turnips bleed.

tim in vermont said...

I am glad that on my recent trip through NJ, that I took the ticket, even though the leasing company pays the tolls, they do charge me subsequently.

Yancey Ward said...

Damn- the GW bridge toll is now 16 dollars? Yikes!

Yancey Ward said...

So, let me understand this- you just went through EasyPass lanes and waited for them to bill you by license plate?

Yancey Ward said...

It never occurred to me that this was an option.

Ann Althouse said...

"Damn- the GW bridge toll is now 16 dollars? Yikes!"

The Holland Tunnel

Ann Althouse said...

"It never occurred to me that this was an option."

These are covid times. There WAS no other option. You just drive through and they bill you. It's really annoying too, because it's a notice of "violation," which makes me feel bad. But you're forced to skip the booth. No one is there.

tim in vermont said...

I am pretty sure that the GW bridge is also $16, having just crossed it a couple weeks ago.

typingtalker said...

My summer vacation included a semi-circumnavigation of Chicago on some of Illinois' highways-under-construction. As an out-of-state guest I wasn't prepared to pay tolls any way other than by visiting a toll booth.

No toll booths to be found.

Two months later I received a bill, payable via credit card. I paid. I guess we're even.

Next time I'll register before my visit.

tim in vermont said...

"There WAS no other option." It was different three weeks ago... They requested exact change, to minimize interaction, but I guess that's before NJ declared their omicron 'state of emergency.'

RBE said...

After years of paying at the booth on the NY thruway and two times paying by mail after covid, I got an ez-pass and I keep it replenished with little effort. There are notices and warnings posted on the roads and they do track you down. One exception...I was traveled on Thanksgiving day 2020 and I never got a bill from all the I-95 corridor states except NY (thruway I-87)and I paid.

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

Thanks for the added note - was having trouble seeing you and Meade as style jumpers ;-)

Owen said...

Send them the money they want. In pennies.

Ann Althouse said...

These bills are from 12/15 to 12/18.

gspencer said...

"You must comply"

"But you made it impossible to comply"

"You must comply"

[In an endless loop]

c365 said...

I'm a small government minded person. But I have to say the NJ method might be the only one that is actually billing correctly.

What's the cost to maintain a toll monitoring and compliance department with employees, training, managers, payment processing, etc.? And should they just cover their costs, or cover enough to deal with attrition of personnel, equipment, etc.?

This is not an argument for toll roads in general. Sales and use + fuel taxes should more than cover the cost of building and maintaining roads. But I imagine those funds are wasted on all manner of expenditures so states double dip.

Owen said...

Maybe it's time to put some duct tape on your license plates. Also, put the EZ-Pass and your mobile devices in a Faraday cage. And wear a mask.

These measures may --no guarantees-- impede the State in its tireless search for your last nickel.

John henry said...

I thought most states had pay online. I did that in Illinois when I was in a rental car with no ezpass.

Just go to the website, pick the toll plazas from a map, enter plate # and a credit card.

I don't think Illinois even has toll booths any more.

Same thing on Texas last may near Dallas

Tomcc said...

PA turned the turnpike over to a contractor. They photograph your license plate at the booth and send a bill (or, in my case, charged the rental car company which then charged me). I'd be surprised if you don't get a bill, with admin fees.
I've never heard of a "that's okay, you can pay next time" model.

Mark said...

No one in toll booth.

They are eliminating toll booth altogether. Going to a transponder system. Of course, screws the out-of-staters without a transponder.

Bill Peschel said...

Another data point: The only toll road we use is in Delaware. We've gone back and forth a couple times during the panicdemic, and there's always been a toll taker. I guess their union isn't as strong as in NJ.

Narayanan said...

Professora : time to appear and present case to NJ Supreme Court >>>> show us what can be done within cruel neutral framework of forensic thought process

WWMartin said...

Similar problem with NJ, except we had an EZPass which the system apparently did not read (it worked everywhere else on that trip). I sent them the toll amount. Have not yet heard back on the missing 'admin fee'.

rcocean said...

Had an experience in another state with a similar thing. Stopped to pay my toll. Nothing open. No place to drop Money. Nothing posted. No instructions. Drove off. Months pass. Get a letter demanding I pay $6 plus $50 fee for not paying at first notice.

Called POC, and told her I never got a "first notice". So i paid $6. Shows how concientious I am, because I live in another state, and good luck with getting your $56 from me.

rcocean said...

If you're upset at paying the high New york toll, just go to NYC and shoplift an equal amount from a Manhatten store. No big whoop in NYC per their DA.

tim in vermont said...

I hate that farking Delaware toll, for some reason I resent it because it's clearly aimed at out of staters driving north and south on 95. I usually drive west through Charlotte and western Virginia, but this time I was headed directly for Boston so I ponied up what was maybe sixty dollars in tolls, all tolled.

Tom T. said...

Apparently a judge just ruled that the $50 fee fairly represents NJ's cost of collection.

https://nj1015.com/nj-drivers-take-it-on-the-chin-as-judge-rules-on-e-zpass-fees-opinion/

Tim said...

Best advice I have for you is to stay out of NJ,NY and Delaware completely. And use toll avoidance on your GPS program.

tim in vermont said...

Not to mention taking four or five hours to get from DC to Richmond, and this had nothing to do with snow.

Another old lawyer said...

I drove thru the northern Illinois tollway on the way to and then from Wisconsin. No toll booths there either, but confusing signs that point drivers to an Internet site. Info conveyed by signage is limited because space but they demand you read them while you're driving 60+ MPH -- IF you notice them among the other highway signs. In any event, when I got home, I went to the site and opened an account to register my car and license plate, and added a credit card to be billed.

It took the IL toll system more than 45 days, IIRC more than 60 days, before the photo-captured license plate data was processed and my credit card charged.

But I then couldn't figure out how to delete the account (and site implied there wasn't a way). I was able to delete my credit card info, however, and then got multiple emails about not having payment info saved to my account.

Contrast that experience with tollway that circles OKC that I drove about a month later. No toll booths, and signage also referred drivers to a website. Website didn't allow me to open account like for IL tollway, and said I'd received a bill based upon info associated with my license plate. That was 2+ months ago, and nothing received yet.

rcocean said...

I don't think "duct taping" the plates work if you have a rental car. And someone told me that on new cars, the electronic gizmos transmit the VIN number to the toll booth sensors. He could have been pulling my leg, but its possible.

Breezy said...

The MASS Pike has gone all transponder now, and has removed all toll booths. The transponder readers are on structures that sit over the highway, as in other states. There are signs telling you not to worry if you don't have a transponder, they'll bill you - gee thanks! However, never have there been "don't worry we'll bill you the toll plus $50 for our trouble"... If this admin fee was not advertised in advance, how can the state possibly expect to receive that? And what recourse could they have if you don't pay it if they didn't notify the drivers in advance?

Skeptical Voter said...

New Jersey is just one among legion of state governments that asks a poor citizen to perform an impossible act---like handing money to an attendant in a toll booth that's empty.

And then if you don't or can't perform the impossible act the state charges you extra.

Welcome to the current government. In a lot of states.

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

Drove from NYC to Hyde park once to see FDR's library. Tried to take the parkway scenic route. Seemed like it was one goddamn toll booth after another. Had thought about pushing on to West Point, but the whole NY state driving experience was so dreary I just drove back to Newark and caught my plane early.

tim in vermont said...

Maryland had a toll that was a couple of bucks for "Maryland EZPass" and 12 or 16 dollars for the rest of us, I forget the exact amount. They have different tolls for people who don't vote in their state, go figure.

tim in vermont said...

"what recourse could they have if you don't pay it if they didn't notify the drivers in advance"

Suspend your registration in your home state.

Ann Althouse said...

"Apparently a judge just ruled that the $50 fee fairly represents NJ's cost of collection."

Thanks.

I feel better knowing that, officially, I'm not getting screwed.

Lem said...

Yea. Covid accelerated NJ plans of getting everybody to get their electronic ez-pass account. Before covid they had dwindled human toll collectors to one and none in many lightly used off ramps. Covid was the coup de grâce they couldn't bring themselves to execute, because of fears about how it could be portrayed. Minorities hardest hit... yada yada.

gilbar said...

a few years ago, the I-65 bridge at Louisville SUDDENLY was a toll bridge....
No booths, just a sign saying that if you don't have a transponder to pay online
NO MENTION of WHERE to pay online.

It caught me coming back too (i travel through Louisville once or twice a year to go to N. Carolina)

SO, i owe two fares, which have yet to show up. HOWEVER, like i said, i go to NC once or twice a year and Louisville is the easy way. But, i don't want to be a repeat repeat offender
FORTUNATELY, the I-64 bridge is just a couple of miles out of my way, and (so Far!) it is Still a free bridge. Even if i had a transponder, it'd Still be cheaper to drive an extra 5 miles

Maynard said...

My summer vacation included a semi-circumnavigation of Chicago on some of Illinois' highways-under-construction. As an out-of-state guest I wasn't prepared to pay tolls any way other than by visiting a toll booth.

No toll booths to be found.


Illinois has a long history of tollbooth workers supplementing their income by stealing tolls. They have rectified the situation by making all tolls EZ-Pass.

Last summer we were back in Chicago and I kept a record of the tolls I owed. (My EZ Pass is long gone). When I went to the website to pay my tolls, they apparently only registered about half of my violations. The level of incompetence in IL and US government is staggering.

Howard said...

I hate toll booths. East Coast thing. Not many out West except on bridges and a very few expressways. 17-mile Drive at Pebble Beach. The Masshole ez pass is great at least inside New England.

I hear with the 4th mRNA shot, you get a nation-wide EZ-Pass implant at no extra optional additional charge.

Owen said...

rcocean @ 2:48: "They have different tolls for people who don't vote in their state, go figure."

I am kinda rusty on Con Law but isn't there something about equal protection in that fusty musty old document?

I know, I know: let sleeping dogs lie. Because if Congress gets a hair up its nether regions, it will do a National Toll Authority which will whack us all twice as hard and then dribble out to the various states some prorated portion less the stunning "administrative charges." Plus, I don't doubt, a hefty surcharge for "equity" to pay for more transit for the inner city folk with no cars.

Sorry. Very cynical today.

PS: you cautioned me above about duct tape not working. Totally agree. And if the newer cars just wirelessly talk to the transponders with VIN (and other data: such as speed, GPS route, in-car conversation monitored by car systems), I wouldn't be at all surprised. I grew up when radar detectors were a big way to push back against the Man. I wonder if, today, there would be a market for "Toll Stealth TM" gizmos. But no, officer: not personally interested in such a thing. Asking for...a friend.

Readering said...

Thanks for the warning. Expect to be driving in NJ next month. Last time I did it they still had humans on Turnpike.

Lem said...

Georgia took a different and better approach to toll collecting. Georgia has dedicated electronic toll road lanes which changes toll $ charge according to how bad the traffic is. Electronic billboards tell drivers how much they are going to be charged should they choose to take the toll lane. Once you take the toll lane you are monitored electronically (car scanner) and with cameras, so there is no slowing nor stopping.

Scot said...

Solution: NJ doubles the toll but only charges those who are leaving the state. Interstate commuters pay the same toll per day. Regular people will pay any amount to leave.

Joe Smith said...

'I am pretty sure that the GW bridge is also $16, having just crossed it a couple weeks ago.'

Tolls just went up around here on most bridges to $7 and I think that's a lot.

'I feel better knowing that, officially, I'm not getting screwed.'

You're still getting screwed, officially or not...

Nichevo said...

FYI if you are willing to go farther north, you can cross the Tappan Zee for about five or six bucks.

Mr. Forward said...

No one was there but someone was getting paid.

Static Ping said...

I am trying to figure out the route you were taking, assuming you were driving from Wisconsin. I would think the most direct route would be Interstate 80. Unless something has changed, that road is toll free in those states with the exception of the bridge over the Delaware River, which is not that expensive. (You'd have to pay the toll to get into Manhattan, but at that point you are no longer technically on I-80.) So obviously you did not go that way.

The New Jersey tolls are almost certainly from the Turnpike, so my guess is you were on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the New Jersey Turnpike to whatever NYC crossing(s) for at least one direction, and then a different route for the other.

Wince said...

These are the same people who promise universal healthcare.

Mikey NTH said...

I've done the PA turnpike and they mail the bill. Nephew of mine ignored the bill, got it back with a fine. Ohio Turnpike still has people collecting tolls.

Goldenpause said...

Ann, you could avoid almost all of these problems by simply getting an EZ Pass transponder. I wrote almost because the transponders can and do go dead on you and then you have to get the toll authorities to reverse all the extra charges because of the failure. Still it beats the alternative.

Rory said...

To those few who have the courage to drop out and find themselves, may God be with you and take you through Pennsylvania, avoiding New Jersey entirely."

John henry said...

Two toll stories

1) I used to work with a guy from North Jersey back in the 90s. He was politically connected, town council or something. At that time they were trying to convert from toll booths to coin drops on the Garden State Parkway. The toll booth workers had a really strong union and were trying to stop it.

Toll collectors, in the 90s, made something like $80,00 per year in regular wages. But, in their last year, they would work lots and lots of overtime so that they earned $120-150,000.

Guess how their pension was calculated.

2) In 68 I spent 6 months at Banbridge Naval Training Center in Port Deposit MD. Just north of the Susquehanna River.

The only shopping was towards Aberdeen on the South side of the river. There was a toll bridge over the river and the toll was something like 50 or 75 cents each way.

But you could buy books of coupons for $5 or so and the coupon price worked out to about 3 cents.

3) We have a number of toll plazas in Puerto Rico. One will be staffed but most were exact change in a basket. Back in the 80s they were having trouble with toll jumpers. So they put automatic gates that only opened after you tossed your quarter.

Then they had problems with traffic backing up. So they hired "ushers" for each toll. Instead of you putting the quarter in the basket, the usher would throw one to open the gate as you approached. Then, you handed the usher a quarter. Not sure it sped anything up but it sure did employ a lot of voters.

It took us a long time to get automatic tolling here but I am glad we waited the extra year. Instead of being stuck with the active RFID clunky boxes, we have passive RFID which is a 1"X3" label with an embedded chip. Very unobtrusive and no battery.

John LGBTQBNY Henry

John henry said...

Actually that was 3 toll stories.

I always like to give a bit more than I promised.

John LGBTQBNY Henry

Joe Smith said...

I missed a lane change in Italy once and couldn't stop to pay the toll.

My wife said, 'Don't worry, they'll track the rental plate and bill us.'

OK, I thought, uneasily.

The $5 toll turned into $75.

But the part that made me laugh was the fact that it took the Italians five years to send me the bill.

Now, that's efficiency!

Joe Smith said...

'Toll collectors, in the 90s, made something like $80,00 per year in regular wages.'

How many died early of cancer from breathing exhaust fumes for decades?

boatbuilder said...

If you drive to JFK Airport from CT you have to cross the Whitestone Bridge, twice-once coming and once going. You get hit on your EZ pass for that, and also for the access road to JFK. Last time I did it I think the Whitestone was $12 each way and the JFK stuff was another $10.

As you come back the electronic message on the Whitestone tells you that your EZ pass account is low and needs to be replenished.

No shit.

Molly said...

Can anyone explain why states don't give a EZ Pass device to every citizen, or every registered vehicle. The devices must be pretty cheap. People who now think "I don't use toll roads/bridges often enough to justify paying the cost of the device (and don't some states have an annual fee?)," would then just have the device, and get a bill in the mail (or a reminder to increase their account balance, or an automatic charge to a charge card.

boatbuilder said...

About a decade ago we were driving to the Outer Banks in two separate cars full of the kids, their various friends, and a bunch of vacation supplies. We somehow got on a private toll highway, which was quite convenient and very reasonably priced. However my wife got confused and went through the "pass" lane, thinking that the EZ pass would cover it. I saw this, and also saw the attendants trying to flag her down (Good luck with that!).
I pulled up to the toll booth and told them that I would also pay for that car, since I didn't want to deal with fines, admin. charges, etc. They told me that I couldn't to that--not allowed; that we would get mailed a bill with the penalty, etc.
I eventually got the bill. $1.50 for the toll and 50 cents for the violation.
yeesh.

RMc said...

But the part that made me laugh was the fact that it took the Italians five years to send me the bill.

Italians are famous for making the trains run on time, not the highways.

John henry said...

Blogger Molly said...

Can anyone explain why states don't give a EZ Pass device to every citizen, or every registered vehicle. The devices must be pretty cheap.

In Puerto Rico you can buy an AutoExpresso kit in any toll booth and a lot of gas stations. The kit consists of the RFID label and a plastic recharge card along with instructions.

Cost is $10 which, IIRC includes $10 for tolls. Not certain on that though.

You can, but don't need to, set up an account online with a credit card. They charge something to the card ($20?)then deduct each time you incur a toll. When it gets low ($5?) it automatically tops off against your card.

If you do not have an account (I do not, probably should) You just recharge at any staffed toll booth. Cash, credit or ATH card. You can also use the plastic card to recharge at many gas stations. You don't need it at a toll booth.

The toll stations give you a yellow light under $5 balance and a red at $0. You have 7 days to recharge or you get fined $100 plus what you owe.

So basically free or pretty cheap for the label and account and just pay tolls. Of course the cost of the label is less than 2 cents as opposed to a transponder which is how much, $20-30 or so? To the toll authority.

John LGBTQBNY Henry

Narayanan said...

Joe Smith said...
I missed a lane change in Italy once and couldn't stop to pay the toll.

My wife said, 'Don't worry, they'll track the rental plate and bill us.'

OK, I thought, uneasily.

The $5 toll turned into $75.

But the part that made me laugh was the fact that it took the Italians five years to send me the bill.

RMc said...
But the part that made me laugh was the fact that it took the Italians five years to send me the bill.

Italians are famous for making the trains run on time, not the highways.

Now, that's efficiency!
-----

Italians just waited till : Obama Hails the ‘Intercontinental Railroad’

Rollo said...

Years of teaching in a law school would make anyone a scofflaw.

I wonder if the same thing happens to professors in other departments.

Watcha gonna do when they come for you?

P.S. You do know what they say about people who try to be their own lawyer.

tastid212 said...

This has happened to me several times in several states, with a "penalty" added when all the toll booths are unmanned. Delaware's fees for a $4 toll had $50 extra for Admistrative Fee, Ambulance Co. Fund, and Combat Violent Crimes.

My response is to write a letter explaining that the booths were empty and include a check for the legitimate toll. It's always been accepted. My guess is that enough people just pay the whole amount out of frustration. Easy money for some fat bureaucracy.

Another scam nailed me at the I-195 bridge in Fall River, Mass. The toll was, say, $4 and I gave the woman a twenty. She hands me a rolled up wad of bills as change. When I finally got to Cape Cod, I realized the change was about five bucks in ones. Traffic was pretty heavy, so she could easily have been taking home several hundred dollars a day on busy weekends from folks with out-of-state plates.

Vance said...

Driving out east sounds expensive.

You should come visit Utah again, Althouse! We have one toll road. Perfectly optional, and specifically built to cut down on rush hour traffic into Salt Lake.

And I actually don't know of any toll roads between Utah and Madison, either.

Plus, looking at cattle ranches is likely far prettier than New Jersey anyway.

The Godfather said...

NC is a civilized state (notwithstanding having a Democrat Governor). There are a couple of places I drive to, that involve use of toll roads. There are (and never have been, I think) no toll booths on those roads. If you haven'r signed up for EZ Pass (which I haven't), they have electronic readers for your license plate, and they bill you for the toll. I don't know what they do if you fail to pay, because I pay my bills. A few years ago when I flew to Calif and rented a car, the tolls charged for my travels in the rental car were included in my car rental bill.
$16 to travel from NJ to NY? Or vice versa? If it's worth it to you . . . .

MadisonMan said...

Like many people in southern WI, I have an IPass, and that's always worked fine when I drive out east -- but I make a real effort to avoid toll roads. Especially the PA Turnpike.
I'm reminded that I should replace my IPass, as it's supposed to have expired in 2020. Still worked last time I used it.

DanTheMan said...

>>Georgia has dedicated electronic toll road lanes which changes toll $ charge according to how bad the traffic is.

When the government does it, they call it "Demand Management".
When you do it, they call it "Price gouging".

James K said...

'I am pretty sure that the GW bridge is also $16, having just crossed it a couple weeks ago.'


I think that's the toll for "peak" traffic times if you don't have an EZPass. There's a substantial discount with the EZPass and the off-peak toll is also lower.

I got an EZPass transponder last year even though I don't own a car, because I got tired of dealing with the tolls when I rented a car, whether paying them by mail, or paying the high fees the rental car companies charge for providing you with a transponder. I just have to remember to bring it with me when I rent a car, and remember to take it back when I'm done with the rental. So far so good.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

That doesn’t sound right. The $50 fee is for “violators” and you are not a violator. The NJ turnpike FAQS says that you only have to pay the toll that you would have to pay in person if you do so by the due date on the first notice and that the administrative fee is only billed on a second notice if you miss that. In any case, because it’s a violation you should be able to appeal, so you should call or write to see if you can get the fee waived. For example, if you never got the first notice, that should be grounds for waiver. You can also play the Lady from Wisconsin card.


Original Mike said...

I bought a new car in Connecticut and drove it home to Madison. It had no plates. Didn't want the FBI tracking me down as a domestic terrorists; I avoided toll roads.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Here’s a story from July 2020 reporting that the billing company sent a bunch of people second notices without sending first notices by mistake. If they did that once, they could have done it again.

cyrus83 said...

New York has switched to electronic tolling only and that was planned long before Covid, the only way to pay now is either E-ZPass or paying a bill in the mail. The toll booths may still be there, but they are no longer staffed.

NYS adds a surcharge if you don't have an E-ZPass transponder and they bill you by mail. The $16 toll they charged is either $11.75 or $13.75 depending on time of day if using a NYS or NJ-issued E-ZPass. NYS elsewhere generally charges 24% more than the old cash rate if you don't have an E-ZPass and they have to send you a bill, and a lesser 9% surcharge if you do have E-ZPass but it's out-of-state.

wendybar said...

Imagine living there, having to pay those tolls everyday to go to work and then the highest taxes to live in those Progressive Utopias (NY and NJ). And they wonder why people are leaving in droves??

Birches said...

Killdozer activated

Leland said...

Harris County, TX has a Here is the best I can find. My local toll pay website seems extremely easy.