Garden State Parkway - Toll Collection

Toll Collection

Whereas the New Jersey Turnpike uses a system of long-distance tickets, obtained once by a motorist upon entering and surrendered upon exiting at toll gates (a "closed" system), the Garden State Parkway uses no tickets but collects tolls at toll plazas at semi-regular intervals along its length and at certain exits (an "open" system). The standard car toll is $0.75 on the main road at two-way toll plazas and $1.50 at one-way toll plazas. Some individual exits require a toll of either $0.50, $0.75, or $1.50. The Parkway has implemented the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system, with the first plaza opening in December 1999 and the system completed September 19, 2000. Parkway tokens continued to be available until January 1, 2002, and were invalidated effective January 1, 2009. Customers using exact-change lanes are required to pay with coins only. The Union Toll Plaza was the first to use an automated toll-collection machine. A plaque commemorating this event includes with the first quarter collected at its toll booths.

Tokens originally cost $10 for a roll of 40 tokens (the toll was 25 cents when tokens were introduced), but when the toll was increased to 35 cents, rolls were 30 tokens for $10. Before invalidating the tokens, the NJHA gave several months' warning and gave motorists the opportunity to redeem tokens. Tokens were originally brass, but were changed to a bimetallic composition with an outer silver-colored ring and a brass core. There were also larger bus tokens that existed in each composition, primarily for the use of Atlantic City-bound buses. These were sold in rolls of 20 for $20.

To reduce congestion, some toll plazas on the roadway were converted into one-way plazas between September 2004 and February 2010, dubbed "one-way tolling". Under this program, a $1.50 toll (70 cents or two tokens when first implemented from September 2004 to November 2008 and $1.00 was implemented from December 2008 to December 2011) is collected in one direction, and the other direction is toll-free. The Cape May (in Upper Township), Great Egg (in Somers Point), New Gretna (in Bass River Township), Barnegat (in Barnegat Township), Asbury Park (in Tinton Falls), Raritan (in Sayreville), Union (in Hillside Township), Essex (in Bloomfield Township), Bergen (in Saddle Brook Township), and Pascack Valley (in Washington Township) Toll Plazas had been converted to one-way toll plazas. The Toms River (in Toms River Township) Toll Plaza is the only $0.75 toll barrier plaza that is collected in both directions.

Beginning on November 19, 2001, E-Z Pass customers were charged the approximate token rate, that is 33 cents (peak travel) or 30 cents (off-peak travel), instead of 35 cents. Due to tremendous cost overruns in implementing the E-ZPass system on New Jersey's toll highways the discount was eliminated the next year. NJHA E-ZPass customers were charged a $1-per-month account fee, causing many customers to turn in their NJHA E-ZPass transponders in favor of a transponder from an out-of-state authority which did not charge a monthly fee.

Most toll plazas have dedicated lanes of three varieties: E-ZPass only (at some in addition to Express E-ZPass), Exact Change (coins are deposited in a toll basket which mechanically counts the deposit), or Cash Receipts / E-ZPass (manned lanes at which change is available). The manned lanes will also accept E-ZPass, the exact change lanes will not. Photo enforcement of all exact change lanes went into in effect on October 17, 2011.

Tolls at entrances or exits may not have all three varieties, depending upon the number of lanes available. The location of similarly marked lanes is not identical at each plaza. Lanes are numbered both on the booth and on the pavement leading up to them to assist drivers seeking the proper lanes. Some lanes leading up to plazas are dedicated for E-ZPass holders only.

Signs on many of the toll baskets warn against throwing paper currency into them, which jams them.

On January 8, 2008, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine proposed increases of fifty percent in tolls on the Parkway and Turnpike effective in 2010, to be followed by similar fifty percent increases every four years through 2022. Each time tolls increased, there would be an additional increase for inflation since the last toll increase (for the first, since 2006). This increase in tolls, which would take place on all three of New Jersey's toll roads, would, according to Corzine, help pay the state's debt. The roads would be maintained by a nonprofit "public benefit corporation" which would pay back bonds to the state. Without considering inflation, the proposal would have increased the standard 35-cent toll on the Garden State Parkway to approximately $1.80 by 2022, with tolls for the entire length of the northbound Garden State Parkway rising from $4.55 to $30.10 in 2022. It was considered possible that commuters will receive discounts from the higher toll rates. The proposal was not enacted due to fierce opposition from the state of New Jersey. On September 5, 2008, a proposal to increase Parkway tolls substantially was reported. The first phase of the toll increase on the Garden State Parkway went into effect on December 1, 2008. As of January 1, 2012, toll rates on the Garden State Parkway are $0.50 for ramp tolls, $0.75 for two-way toll barriers, and $1.50 for one-way toll barriers.

Read more about this topic:  Garden State Parkway

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