Ah, the E-ZPass. That little white box that lets you roll right through tollbooths without having to dig for change.
Convenience for commuters, yes. Perennial problem for procrastinators, definitely.
Massachusetts is moving ever closer to a full-on E-ZPass conversion, with the goal of getting every driver in the state off the cash-pay method, for good. Email list subscribers had been getting reminders in their inboxes over the past several weeks: “Know anyone still using cash? Encourage them to … join E-ZPass to save time and money.”
Millions have made the switch, according to MassDOT. As of August, 2015, there were 2.51 million E-ZPasses on the road, up from 2.26 million in 2014, according to a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. But as the consistent lines in cash-only lanes prove, there are still many who haven’t gotten theirs.
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The first major nudge to convert everyone to cash-free tolls came last year, when MassDOT eliminated cash tolls on the Tobin Bridge — and started sending transponder-less drivers bills in the mail, through a system called Pay-by-Plate that tacks on an additional 50 cent surcharge. Last year alone, there were 1.17 million Pay-by-Plate transactions at the Tobin Bridge, according to MassDOT.
Many drivers got the message, MassDOT said.
"“MassDOT has seen an increase in the number of E-Zpasses used since MassDOT launched the All-Electronic Tolling system," said spokeswoman Amanda Skahan in an email. "We strongly encourage drivers to sign up."
In an informal survey in Haymarket Square on Wednesday, many said they needed little convincing to make the switch.
Dom Capossela, 73, said he’s had his E-ZPass for years.
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“I got mine as soon as it came out because it was handy,” the Boston resident told Metro. “When you use it it’s really sweet to pass the long line of cash customers and go on your way.”
Haned Hamed, who lives in Back Bay, said he rarely needs his E-ZPass but keeps it around for when he has to go out of state.
His advice to pass-less commuters: Get a pass.
“It’s free now. You’re not losing any money,” the 45-year-old said.
Sam Adam, a 30-year-old limo driver from Winthrop, said he has a pass because he needs it to get to the airport.
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Derek Smith said he ditched his after he moved to Boston from Lynn. Now carless, he said he remembers how easy it was to use when he was commuting to the city.
“It ran smooth,” he said.
Others said they just don’t need one.
“I don’t do much driving through tolls," said Sylvia Spinkston, a 76-year-old Back Bay resident who said she mostly just drives around the city. “I stay off the Pike.”
Don't have one?
Get one online, call 1-877-627-7745 or pick one up in person at 17 AAA locations, 20 branches of the Registry of Motor Vehicles or one of 5 E-ZPass service stations, including one in East Boston and one in Haymarket.