Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Don't Ask for Whom You Pay Tolls

Speaking of New England drivers, Brian McGrory's piece in today's Boston Globe about New Hampshire's failure to install EZPass readers in time for the summer season is a hoot. (I'm quoting liberally here because the link will become pay-only in a few days.)
Understand, virtually every other state up and down the Eastern Seaboard grabbed hold of the technology years ago, such that a motorist can drive from Maine to the southern tip of Virginia without ever having to stop to pay a toll.

Except in New Hampshire, where the state slogan shouldn't be ''Live Free or Die," whatever that means, but ''Sit and Wait, Sucker." Every summer weekend, the traffic slows to a crawl at the Hampton tolls, backing up for 3, 4, 5, or more miles, all because the state looks at E-ZPass like some futuristic endeavor they can't possibly comprehend.

I called up to the state capitol this week to ask why. I half expected the governor, John Lynch, to climb atop a telephone poll, one peg at a time, and talk to me with the receiver in one hand and the mouthpiece in the other. Instead, his spokeswoman, Pamela Walsh, summed up the delay in one word: tokens.

Most New Hampshire people use them, and benefit from the 50 percent discount they get. E-ZPass, because of the costs to administer it, would offer residents only a 30 percent break.

''He doesn't want to barrel ahead on this," Walsh said.

Tokens? Barrel ahead? If these people had been around in the 1700s, we'd be playing ''Hail to the Chief" for Tony Blair. Do the people of New Hampshire still use quill pens and parchment? Do they watch 13-inch black-and-white Philcos? Do they use outhouses?

Oh, well. Maybe drivers can use the time sitting at the Hampton tollbooth backup to study up on their driving rules and regs.


Blogger David said...

On June 19th, the Globe had another article about E-Z Pass in NH. It turns out they will start having E-Z pass lanes on July 11th at some tolls. Looks like your SFNE's post made them reconsider. Unfortunately it sounds as if the Hampton tolls will be one of the last to get E-Z pass lanes.

I suppose I'm a bit like the quill pen wielding NH folks in the Globe piece that you originally wrote about, in that I have not embraced this "new" E-Z Pass technology. It's not so much that I fear the new-fangled things and I clearly don't fear change ;-). It is just that I didn't feel like the Massachusetts transponder fee of $27.50 was worth it. The E-Z Pass lanes didn't seem that much faster too me. (Also, I only travel through toll plaza's about 15 to 20 days a year).

However, I am now jumping aboard the E-Z Pass movement...because New Hampshire is selling their transponders for only $5! (This price will only be available for the first year.) For that small price you can't go wrong.

I signed up a few minutes ago at EZPassNH.com. If you do too, fear not--Despite the agreement saying that the transponder will cost $30, they really only charge $5. Also, when you are initially asked in which state you reside, choose NH. You can buy transponders from any state, not just the one you live in. The instructions say they ask this so that you can be "forwarded to the most appropriate signup location"...but they don't consider price!

Happy trails.

4:37 AM  
Blogger David said...

Update: They've corrected their Terms and Conditions page since I wrote my original comment above. The Terms now properly reflect the $5 transponder fee.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

Coolamundo! I'll have to tell my husband. I don't know if it's a guy/gadget thing, but he really wants an EZPass transponder, even though we don't go through the toll booths that often either!

Thanks for the update--I missed that article in the Globe. And if there's anything I did to contribute to progress in my own little way, well, I'm proud to help.

6:56 AM  
Blogger David said...

One last thing: If you get a NH transponder, elect to get account statements via email, otherwise after the first year they'll begin charging $1 per month for the snail mail versions. (See 4. Account Status in the Terms and Conditions.)

9:22 AM  

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