E-ZPass fees troubling, Schumer says

Zipping through a high-speed E-ZPass toll can be pricey for any motorist who doesn’t keep an eye on

Zipping through a high-speed E-ZPass toll can be pricey for any motorist who doesn’t keep an eye on their balance.

Drivers who go through a toll with insufficient funds can end up paying upward of $50 in fees. Yet there’s no warning system to alert them when their balances are running low or there’s a problem with an automatic payment, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

“With gas prices adding to commuting costs, the last thing New Yorkers need are unwarranted and avoidable fees every time they pay a toll,” he said in a statement Friday. “E-ZPass is supposed to save New Yorkers money, but by failing to notify drivers about impending charges when they drive through high-speed tolls, it’s leaving many of them in the red.”

Schumer is proposing a system where motorists would receive a text message warning them when their E-ZPass balances run low and about any impending charges they may face. While drivers receive visual warnings about low balances or impending charges when using low-speed tolls, drivers do not receive alerts on high-speed tolls.

This is because a warning sign in the high-speed toll lanes could distract a driver. In some places, these lanes allow traffic to flow at 65 mph.

Only when customers receive a notice in the mail alerting them to accumulating fines are they made aware of the problem. By that point, Schumer said they may have already run up hundreds of dollars in fees.

“By alerting drivers about any problems via text message, we can make E-ZPass more convenient for hundreds of thousands of New York City E-ZPass users and save them hundreds of dollars in potential fees,” he said.

On the Thruway, high-speed lanes without warning systems can be found at exits B1 and 24 in Albany; Exit 25A in Rotterdam, Exit 27 in Amsterdam, Exit 28 in Fultonville and Exit 29 in Canajoharie. The Thruway Authority assesses a $25 fee every time a motorist fails to pay a toll at these exits.

There are roughly 2.67 million E-ZPass users in New York. Schumer said a text message alert system would help drivers keep the savings the E-ZPass program is supposed to provide, instead of making residents give back those savings in the form of toll fees.

Categories: Schenectady County

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