Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fool E-ZPass Once, Shame On It. Fool E-ZPass 633 Times, Shame On You

If only Frank Maier wasn't so greedy. If only he had gone through the E-ZPass system without paying 632 times and not 633, he would be sitting pretty. He is the top E-ZPass abuser in Delaware owing $4,748 in tolls and $30,000 in fees that were racked up from January 2005 through October 2007. Maier has nothing on NJ's top abuser Stephen Shells, coming in with 1,444 violations mostly from the Parkway. Shells is on the hook for $1,700 in tolls and $36,000 in fees...something the Dulles Toll Road needed to look into enforcing back in 2005.

E-ZPass works really well...that is when you finally reach the E-ZPass only lanes.

I've enjoyed E-ZPass from the start when I battle the I-95 corridor from Maryland to the NJ 'burbs just outside the City. It makes me feel sort of special when I pass those unlucky travelers who have to fork over cash at one of the many traffic-inducing tolls. Using E-ZPass also lets me forget that I pay $16.50 to go from MD to my parents' home at the end of the Turnpike, and $14.50 on the way back because I don't hand over cash during the drive. There is an alternate route to avoid most, if not all, I-95 tolls, but it'd add at least 35 minutes and 45 miles to the drive.

With the Popemobile (and I suppose the Pope) in town this week, allow me to use this space as a toll abusing confessional for a non-Catholic. I too have avoided paying a toll. During my undergrad days I tried figuring out what to do for a summer job. At my parents' coaxing, I drove down to the Jersey shore for a day of job hunting. What better place to be than the beach with disposable income for the summer? I never did find a job I liked because I didn't want to stir caramel all day long.

Where was this French toll basket when I needed it?

Anyway, at some point during the trip, I was getting off of the Parkway and didn' t have 35 cents in exact change to throw into the toll basket, but the only two lanes open were for "Exact Change." Seeing no other options including this one mentioned in the Times, I just drove right on through, half-expecting a swarm of cops to stop my car on the other side. For the next few weeks I waited to receive a letter about abusing the toll collection system, but nothing arrived (and still hasn't until this blog post perhaps?). The cost of printing and sending such a letter would cost more than the 35 cents anyway.

I have a long way to go I if want to become NJ's top E-ZPass offender. It's always good to rationalize.

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