BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Electronic toll booths are a trend all around the country and it could happen in Maryland.
Andrea Fujii explains not everyone is happy with the possible change.
If the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) has its way, toll booths will be gone at some point. But it is far from a done deal yet.
Whether it’s stopping to pay cash or slowing down for an E-ZPass scan, there’s always a delay driving through toll booths. So the MdTA is studying what it’d take to get rid of them.
“There’s a customer convenience factor and it’s also environmentally a little more sensitive not to have cars stopped and idling at toll booths,” Harold Bartlett of the MdTA said.
The Intercounty Connector already uses all electronic tolls, and to convert the other seven would cost upwards of $180 million– money the MdTA says it doesn’t have… yet.
But the idea is already sparking concern from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that represents the nearly 200 toll booth workers.
“We’ve had no discussions, and that’s why we’re demanding that the state sit down with the employees to work through that,” Patrick Moran, director of AFSCME, said.
The changeover would mean no option to pay cash.
E-ZPass holders get 10 percent off. Those without it will be billed by mail at 1.5 times the base rate.
That leaves drivers with mixed feelings.
“I certainly think it would make it easier on the roads and eliminate some of the traffic,” one driver said.
“Everyone don’t have an E-ZPass,” said another. “Then if they go through the toll and you’re taking their license, that’s just like the flash cameras. Then you’re going to charge them another fee.”
The complete study will be done by the fall and there’s no set date on if or when the conversion would happen.
The MdTA says the state would eventually save money with the conversion but it would take a long time to cover the cost of implementation.
It expects the Francis Scott Key Bridge would be the likely first toll booth to go all electronic.