EZ Pass was a fantastic idea. It was implemented at great cost for the right reasons. It was a method to save commuting time, gas, payroll expense to the toll authorities, and like almost everything else in our life it automated paying our tolls.
I grew up spending my summers at the Jersey shore and remember the Garden State Parkway with a toll every 3 miles–or so it seemed. My car always had a roll of quarters to throw in the basket. And sometimes not; I woudl just slow down and pretend to throw a quarter and hope for the best.
So, when EZ Pass came out, I was right on top of it. I don’t use it a lot, but when I do, I loved it. Hit the left lane, and motor on through. I go to New York a few times a year and not having to stop for the $30 in tolls is a huge benefit to me.
But come June 2009, I will be sending my EZ Pass back and requesting an immediate refund on any balance in my account. In their infinite wisdom, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) has decided to penalize the EZ Pass users for saving them money by assesing a $1.50 a month fee for the privilege of helping them out. That is nine trips through either tunnel or the Key Bridge! And this is the thanks we get for the MDTA being unable to manage their budget?
So come June, you can expect to see at least one more car idling away spewing exhaust into the air at our toll facilities. Come June, there will be at least one more car that the MDTA has to manually collect a toll. Come June, I suspect their overtime compensation will go through the roof.
If they need more money to make their budget, why not ask Congress for a bailout (only joking, but hey it might be worth a try), or just increase the tolls paid. I know it is a unique concept to politicians, but you price your product in accordance with the cost to produce it. If it costs the MDTA $2.25 for me to cross the bridge, then charge me $2.25 or $2.50. I am cool with that. But do not penalize the very people that have gone out of their way to save you money. Even the airlines know this drill.
Mind you, Maryland is the only state to come up with this half baked idea. So what do you say, I think we all need to return our transponders during the same week. We can make a statement and let the MDTA figure out what to do with all these pieces of plastic that no one wants!