COLLINS LANDING — The integration of E-ZPass functionality into the tolls at the Thousand Islands International Bridge system has yielded initial success, according to an official who oversees the pathway.
Robert G. Horr III, executive director of the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, said 90 percent of commercial traffic crossing the bridge use E-ZPass at the four U.S. tolls and three Canadian tolls in Lansdowne, Ontario. The figure shocked Mr. Horr and other officials from the authority, who expected closer to 80 percent, but was indicative the increased convenience the toll upgrades have provided, he said.
About 40 percent of passenger traffic also used the new service, Mr. Horr said.
“We can certainly tell customers like it very much,” he said.
TransCore, Nashville, installed new scanning technology at the tolls that have allowed travelers to use E-ZPass since June.
The bridge authority and its counterpart that owns the Canadian span of the bridge, the Federal Bridge Corp., have wanted to incorporate the service into their tolls for years to accommodate more travelers and expedite toll collections. Both entities each paid Transcore, which also installed new conduits and wiring, renovated the security center and laid new concrete, $2.25 million for the combined $5.5 million project. They maintained toll prices because they saved enough money for the upgrades.
“Customers use E-ZPass at toll roads and toll bridges all over, so they expect that we have it too,” Mr. Horr said.
After Transcore completed the project, the authority introduced stickers that offer commuter discount fares, which allow travelers to purchase multiple trips at once at a discount. The authority had planned to use the stickers to replace the plastic discount fare cards, but Mr. Horr said it still offers the cards, and travelers are now encouraged to place them on their windshield for the tolls to scan.
A few commuters with both E-ZPass and the discount stickers or cards have experienced issues with the tolls scanning their E-ZPass tags instead of their fares. Mr. Horr said the scanning systems have been updated to identify the fares before the E-ZPass tags, but added that travelers still need to stop to tell the toll operator which method of payment they want to use, or remove their E-ZPass tags. The bridge authority will refund commuter discount users whose received charges from E-ZPass.
“What we’ve done in our latest buildout ... should eliminate the majority of the problems,” he said.