No Cash Allowed: Tobin Bridge Tolls Go All-Electronic Monday

Motorists pass through toll booths on the Tobin Bridge in Boston on Jan. 15, 2004. (Robert Spencer/AP)
Motorists pass through toll booths on the Tobin Bridge in Boston on Jan. 15, 2004. (Robert Spencer/AP)

Motorists on Monday morning will find that cash payments are no longer accepted for tolls on the Tobin Memorial Bridge.

The transition to all-electronic tolling on the Tobin will officially take place either late Sunday evening or early Monday and will serve as the pilot launch for plans by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to cease cash transactions at toll locations statewide.

Why start all-electronic tolling on the Tobin Bridge?

"The Tobin was selected because it is isolated from the rest of the tolling locations in Massachusetts," said Michael Verseckes, deputy director of communications for MassDOT. "The western Turnpike, which is I-90 from the town of Weston to West Stockbridge, is an entry/exit ticket system, meaning you pay the toll based on the distance traveled."

Tolls will be collected electronically either through a driver's E-ZPass transponder or "via a program in which a camera captures the license plate and the vehicle’s registered owner is billed by mail," MassDOT officials said in a statement released in May of last year.

The price stays the same: $2.50 for those with an E-ZPass transponder, and $3.00 for those who "pay by plate."

MassDOT "strongly encourages" drivers to sign up for E-ZPass transponders.

According to the statement, in 2012 there were 4.1 million cash transactions — an average of 11,000 per day --on the Tobin Bridge, which carries Route 1 over the Mystic River in Boston. The bridge offers a toll discount program to eligible Chelsea and Charlestown residents.

Verseckes said MassDOT's toll collectors have been distributing small leaflets to cash customers to notify them of the change.

"We have also deployed several message boards along the Route 1 corridor," he said. "The message boards are to provide notice, but they also have a message encouraging drivers to sign up for an E-ZPass account."

Three of the Tobin Bridge's booths have already been removed, and the remaining four will be removed in the coming weeks and leave a booth-less stretch, according to Verseckes.


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