- May 25, 2006
- Reaction score
LinkThe Metro said:Traffic toll eyed
Congestion toll charge considered for rush-hour commute
BOSTON. Boosting tolls during rush hour and video tolling are two options that may be implemented when the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority replaces its aging toll system in the next few years, transportation officials said yesterday.
With its Fast Lane system now 10 years old and its cash collection system in place for more than 50 years, the agency has been looking to dramatically upgrade its toll collection technology and improve its old methods.
According to Turnpike official Steve Jacques, many options are being considered to both improve riders? commutes and bring in additional revenue. Over the next 20 years, the state?s transportation system is facing a shortfall of nearly $19 billion.
Under congestion pricing, commuters would be charged more during rush hour, while video tolling would capture drivers? license plates and bill the owners monthly. In addition, another option considered is ?open road? tolls, which allow drivers to avoid booths altogether but track the distance they travel using transponders.
Not all the options will be used, according to Turnpike officials, but it is important the new toll software have state-of-the-art technology. The companies that will be considered by the Turnpike must have these capabilities to win the bid, said Jacques.
?If the board elects to implement congestive pricing somewhere the future, we will be able to handle it. Today, the vendor can?t handle it,? Jacques said. ?Part of the menu that we?re sending out ... we want to have all the new advancements that are available, so you don?t ever have to go back.?
A request for proposals for the project will be issued later this year. The hiring will likely not occur until mid-2008 and implementation of the new system would happen in 2009.
In addition to collection system changes, fares on the Mass Pike will also jump starting in January. Officials will recommend what those hikes will be next month. Then, after a series of public hearings, the board will vote on the hikes in October, according to Mary Jane O?Meara, the Turnpike Authority?s acting executive director.
Greg St. Martin