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Response from DRPA Director of Revenue Regarding NJ E-ZPass
From Jim Quinn, DRPA Director of Revenue:
There was an article in the June 30, 2011 Philadelphia Inquirer about E-ZPass that has a number of inaccuracies regarding DRPA and the New Jersey Electronic Toll Collection Group (NJ ETC Group).
For background and clarification, DRPA is a member of the NJ ETC Group, which includes the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, operator of the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, operator of the Atlantic City Expressway, the Burlington County Bridge Commission, operator of the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and now includes the Delaware River and Bay Authority, operator of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which recently became a member of the NJ ETC Group. The DRPA Board voted to join the NJ ETC Group in 2004. At that time, annual savings were estimated at approximately $1 million, and a costly, but necessary upgrade to our system was avoided.
The NJ ETC Group has a Professional Services Contract with ACS State and Local Solutions to operate its E-ZPass Customer Service Centers (CSC) and to process all activities necessary to establish and maintain customer accounts and process transactions interoperably with the 24 toll agencies in 14 states that constitute the E-ZPass Interagency Group (IAG).
Every toll agency participating in E-ZPass establishes its own rules, policies, procedures, programs and terms and conditions for E-ZPass customers using their facilities. Each toll agency determines the tolls it will charge for passage on its facilities, any discounts or other programs it may offer and who is to benefit from them, and what fees or charges may be assessed to customers enrolled in the E-ZPass program through their respective CSC.
The Inquirer article indicates, “A driver who maintains his E-ZPass account with Pennsylvania pays only $3 a year (see below), compared with $18 for a driver who maintains an account with New Jersey, but the Pennsylvania driver isn't eligible for senior-citizen or "green" vehicle discounts on Delaware River bridges or, starting Friday, any E-ZPass discounts on the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway. (All E-ZPass holders enjoy full discounts on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.)” The accurate information follows: DRPA and the other members of the NJ ETC Group charge customers’ accounts a $1.00 per month service fee ($12.00 per year) and provide free bimonthly written statements. A participant may choose to receive monthly written statements for which there is a $1.00 fee per extra statement or $6.00 per year. There is no charge for transponders.
According to the E-ZPass Terms and Conditions and FAQs about their E-ZPass program on their website, the Pennsylvania Turnpike charges customers “a $6.00 non-refundable annual service fee” per transponder, not “only $3 a year” as indicated in the article. According to one of their customer service representatives, the Pennsylvania Turnpike permits customers to have up to nine (9) transponders which would result in an annual non-refundable fee of $54.00. The website further provides: “Printed detailed monthly statements are available at a cost of $4 per month for every three transponders. Your account information is also available for a limited number of days at no charge on the web at www.paturnpike.com or by calling 1.877.PENNPASS (736.6727). Statements requested via the phone are also subject to the $4 monthly fee. " DRPA’s customers, and other customers of the NJ ETC Group receive free bimonthly statements and can access 12 months of information about their account on line at no cost .
The DRPA Senior Program offers enrolled seniors with E-ZPass a 50% discount versus the cash toll for passenger vehicles. This is one of the most generous discount programs available and is administered internally by DRPA. Senior participants must have a NJ ETC Group E-ZPass account in their name, provide proof of age, and meet residency and vehicle registration requirements. Periodic checks to determine continued eligibility for participation are made by DRPA to minimize abuse of this program. Control of the Senior Program and constant monitoring can only be maintained by DRPA . We cannot ask or expect other toll agencies to exercise the same level of diligence and control regarding our discount necessary to minimize potential abuse.
A few other clarifications may be helpful:
- The E-ZPass IAG accounts for 70% of the tolls collected in the United States, as well as “70% of the toll transactions in their states …”
- The New Jersey Turnpike offers a Senior Program (10% discount during off-peak hours) which it administers similarly to DRPA’s Senior Program. Separate enrollment is required to participate in these Senior Programs.
- Effective July 1, 2011, the DRPA’s Commuter Credit and Green Discount programs expire. The Senior Program is the only remaining discount on our facilities.
- Under the same Professional Services Contract with ACS, ACS provides toll lane and equipment maintenance services for NJTA, but only Customer Service operations for DRPA, hence the apparent significant difference in cost cited in the article.
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