Solutions to the Garden State Parkway tolls they’ll probably never do
Recently, my colleague Matt Ryan talked about that annoying dilemma regarding the toll lanes on the Garden State Parkway.
If you don't have E-ZPass, you're oftentimes left scrambling to find exact change because there's no way for change to be made when entering or exiting the highway.
I've wondered about this for a long time, as I'm sure some of you have as well. It's almost like New Jersey wants to put peer pressure onto its residents to purchase E-ZPass. It's honestly a very stupid setup on the GSP that I've often felt should have a much better solution.
Before I dive into it, first check out Matt's article as that'll be a perfect segue into what I have to share about this dilemma and how we should go about solving it. Maybe... just maybe, the right person will see this who can help solve this annoying problem on the GSP.
The first solution would be to model the Parkway like the New Jersey Turnpike. On the Turnpike, there are no tolls on the main roadway (minus the tolls at the beginning and the end). You grab your ticket when you get on, and pay the amount when you get off.
And also, the Turnpike never has toll plazas without at least one toll collector, so scrambling for change is never an issue.
Of course, one problem with this solution would be the toll-free sections of the Parkway (yes, there are sections you can ride for free... that was by design). I would argue that that shouldn't matter as you can average out the tolls at those particular sections. Makes more sense to do that than force someone to fumble looking for tons of exact change.
The next solution would be to address the problem on the on-ramps and off-ramps. If they don't want to staff the tolls there, then so be it. But at least install cash machines where at least you give someone an opportunity to pay the toll without getting a summons in the mail for going through without paying.
But let's take that a step further. Everything in today's world is credit or app-based anyway. So why not install a machine at every toll that not only can make change for cash but can also accept credit cards and payment through apps.
The current change baskets are so out of date, and let's be honest, those machines were never designed to take almost two dollars of change at one time.
So let's say for whatever reason all of the above is too complicated to do. That still leaves us with one more solution: Make the GSP toll-free. I mean, this was the original promise back when the Parkway was built, why not follow through?
Ah, but alas, money talks, and the odds of tolls going away permanently will most likely never happen.
So for the time being, if you don't have E-ZPass, you'll have to make do with having buckets of change if you plan on traveling the Garden State Parkway.
The reality is, they're probably going to make it E-ZPass only at some point, so we should just get used to the fact this dilemma isn't going away any time soon.