2007-08-16 / Letters to the Editor

EZPass not a wise choice

I'm writing in reaction to the Aug. 2 article titled, "Motorists may find bridge crossing easier some day."

First, the article's title is misleading because currently I don't think anyone finds crossing the Pell Bridge difficult at all. The article stated:

• RITBA has issued an RFP for a consultant to evaluate the feasibility of using an electronic toll collection system (i.e. EZPass) that would cost more than $2 million to install.

• RITBA goals are to reduce congestion, reduce costs and keep the toll rate the same if possible.

• The electronic system would eliminate the use of tokens, but not cash tolls.

• An electronic system would have little impact on staffing levels because toll collectors are still required for cash sales.

• Credit and debit card fees would take about 1-percent of all revenue from an EZPass system.

• Present traffic levels do not warrant the required additional investment that would be necessary to invest in an EZPass system.

• Bridge traffic has been flat the past 5 years and congestion is not a big factor except for special events or some busy summer days.

• New Hampshire's experience with the EZPass system is that the costs were not worth the benefits.

So, the RITBA has already determined through its own three-year research that an EZPass system will do nothing to reduce its overhead costs and do nothing for congestion. Then why are they spending money on a consultant to evaluate it? If they want to make operations more efficient, they should scrutinize their current staffing levels and job duties for inefficiencies.

It appears this system can only add overhead costs that would have the double effect of increasing the cost of crossing the bridge and wiping out the steeply discounted token program. Newport and Middletown are the closest major shopping areas, and Jamestown residents are already paying an unfair "tax" to cross the bridge to begin with.

I hope other Jamestown residents are as skeptical of the RITBA's actions as I am. I suggest that the RITBA immediately stop wasting money on reviewing a system that obviously has no benefits for such a small operation as the Pell Bridge and put that money back into its operations.

Steve Mecca


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