- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some tolling authorities have found a way to give local motorists a break on tolls - while charging out-of-towners a higher rate for using the same roads and bridges.

The E-ZPass electronic toll reading system used by 24 tolling agencies in 14 states in the Northeast and Midwest is able to differentiate where motorists bought their passes and apply varying prices.

Motorists traveling the full length of the New Jersey Turnpike during off-peak hours, for example, pay $10.40 if they bought their E-ZPass from the turnpike’s operators. If they bought their E-ZPass from another tolling authority, or if they’re paying cash, the charge is $13.85. Rhode Island residents with an E-ZPass can cross the Pell Bridge for 83 cents, but out-of-state passenger car drivers with E-ZPass pay $4 ($2 per axle), the same as drivers paying cash.

New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority charges motorists who bought their E-ZPasses locally $4.80 to cross the Robert F. Kennedy, Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges or use the Brooklyn-Battery and Queens Midtown tunnels. Motorists with transponders purchased elsewhere, or who pay cash, are charged $6.50.

Similar arrangements exist in New Hampshire, Maine and West Virginia, according to AAA, the nation’s largest auto club.

Unless out-of-town motorists peruse the tolling authority’s website, they’re unlikely to learn of the disparity, said Jeffrey Frediani, a legislative analyst with AAA’s New York chapter. Many tolling authorities post only the cash price at tolling facilities, providing no clue that some motorists are getting a discount, he said.

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