For whom the bell tolls? Toll booths!
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is studying “cashless tolling” at port authority crossings where an all-electronic toll-collection system ultimately could eliminate the need for tollbooths, said Anthony E. Shorris, executive director.
The toll proposal was included in remarks Shorris made Wednesday to the Association for a Better New York, where he spoke about a plan to put the agency at the forefront of environmental stewardship, and efforts to end bi-state politics and recruit new talent at the agency.
Shorris said he would ask the port authority’s board of commissioners in the next several weeks to approve a study of cashless tolling.
He said an all-electronic toll-collection system ultimately could eliminate the need for tollbooths in favor of electronic cameras and gantries, and allow for real-time traffic and route information about port authority bridges and tunnels to traffic signs for motorists on approach roads.
“An all-electronic toll system could be a tremendous boon to our road transportation system, helping to smooth the choke points at bridges and tunnels, reduce traveler delays, and potentially provide for benefits to regional air quality” Shorris said. “This would mark the end of the tollbooth as we know it, replacing these brick-and-mortar symbols of the 20th century with the digital imaging technology of the 21st century.
“With our successful E-ZPass system, the port authority has long been a leader in transit management technology, so it’s fitting that we get out in front of the new field of cashless tolling and electronic cashless management too,” he added.
Shorris also spoke about the region’s major airports. At JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty projections call for the number of air passengers to grow to 150 million by 2025, up from 104 million last year. He said this was why the port authority acquired Stewart International Airport earlier this year, saying it would help relieve congestion.
Shorris said he would announce new goals for the agency in upcoming months that would put it at the forefront of environmental stewardship.
“We’re going to look at every option, from encouraging carpooling, busing and transit for commuters to finding ways for ships and planes to use alternative sources of energy to power themselves when they’re docked, rather than running their engines the way they do now,” Shorris said.
The authority owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, and Shorris said the planned Freedom Tower and Towers 2, 3 and 4 will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards.
The buildings will receive part of their power from on-site fuel cells that produce nearly zero emissions and reduce the load on the power grid. The remainder of the power for the towers, the Sept. 11 memorial and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub will be renewable energy purchased from the New York Power Authority, he said.