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Some NJ Drivers Wrongly Charged Truck Tolls as NYC Congestion Pricing Looms

It’s the difference between paying $14.75 to cross the GWB and $140.

byNico DeMattia|
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As if New Jerseyans don't already have a love/hate relationship with E-ZPass, the automatic toll collection company is making some drivers' lives even more difficult. Some Jersey drivers have found that, within the past year, they were incorrectly charged the same tolling rate as big-rig trucks despite driving normal passenger cars while crossing the George Washington Bridge. What's the difference in that fee, you ask? Instead of maximum off $14.75—which is already a lot—it could be as much as $140.

According to NorthJersey, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey found 1,891 vehicles overcharged on the four bridges it operates, including the George Washington Bridge, between June 2022 and June 2023. Seeing how that's less than a fraction of one percent of the 122 million drivers that went through Port Authority tolls in 2023, this clearly isn't a widely occurring issue. However, for the individual who's suddenly and unknowingly, paying $140 to cross a bridge, it's a huge problem. Thankfully, the Port Authority has reimbursed those drivers for the erroneous expense.

However, since E-ZPass automatically draws money from your bank account to refill your toll wallet, it can be difficult to realize when it makes a mistake—especially if you avoid paper billing—because few people regularly check their account E-ZPass statements online. So many drivers won't notice until they see that E-ZPass took way more money than usual out of the account.

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Why was this happening? There are a few possible reasons. One could be an error with the toll booth sensors that read both the E-ZPass tag and measure the vehicle size. Another could be that, during heavy traffic, sometimes drivers pass through the toll booths so close together that the sensor is reading two car lengths as one (some cheeky drivers will even try to skip the toll by riding another driver's tail through the gantry). However, there's no definitive reason as to why drivers are being overcharged.

To make matters worse, these overcharges are also happening as New Jerseyans are being asked to pay more. New York is preparing to implement its first-ever daily congestion fee for any vehicle entering Manhattan lower than 60th Street next month. So in addition to the existing tolls, many passenger vehicles will be charged $15 to enter New York during key points of the day. Not the greatest time, then, for toll technology to suddenly be on the fritz.

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