ALEXANDRIA BAY Nearly one in three vehicles that cross the Thousand Islands International Bridge carries an E-ZPass, according to a recent study.
Robert G. Horr III, executive director of the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, said the 12-month tag-penetration study found that 31 percent of all vehicles that drove past the bridge toll booths were equipped with some form of electronic pass with E-ZPasses making up 98 percent of that.
The penetration rate is a little higher than expected. When we started the study, we guessed around 20 percent, he said. Were kind of on the fence on where to go from here.
Around 2 million vehicles, including passenger cars and trucks, cross the bridge annually. The study was initiated last May by TransCore Inc., Middleburg Heights, Ohio.
While the authority believes electronic toll collection is the inevitable way of the future, the cost associated with installing an E-ZPass system is turning out to be much higher than anticipated.
To become a full member of the Interagency Group an association of 24 toll agencies in 14 states that operates the E-ZPass program the bridge authority would have to shell out $275,000 as an initiation fee and a $75,000 annual membership fee, he said. On top of that is the cost to install and maintain the system and process the transactions.
There apparently are other options with different fee structures depending on the size and type of an operation. But at the moment, Mr. Horr said, the bridge authority does not have all the information it needs to determine and compare the hourly costs to operate an E-ZPass lane with a manual cash lane.
Besides the cost effectiveness of the system, the lack of a unified standard of electronic tolling also remains as an obstacle, Mr. Horr said.
However, he said, the authority is counting on the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act aka MAP-21, signed by President Barack Obama in July to expedite the consolidation of the different toll collection standards within the next four years.