What Will Happen to Hudson Valley Toll Takers After Bridges Go Cashless?
Even though you won't be stopping to pay toll workers at Hudson Valley bridges anymore, you may still see some of those friendly faces on the road.
Starting July 5th, cars will no longer be stopping at toll booths on the Newburgh Beacon Bridge. The New York State Bridge Authority has announced that they will be phasing in the end of toll booths over the next several months. After the Newburgh Beacon Bridge goes cashless, similar changes will occur at the Bear Mountain Bridge, Rip Van Winkle Bridge, Mid-Hudson Bridge and Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.
Cars with EZ Pass will have their tolls taken as usual. Those without tags will have their license plates scanned and bills sent to their home. While this is sure to speed up traffic, it marks the end of an era for the friendly toll taker.
All throughout the 90s, I would trek back and forth across the Newburgh Beacon bridge with my commuter passbook. The books were sold at a discount, with each coupon eligible for a trip across the bridge. Because you weren't supposed to rip the coupons out yourself, commuters would tear just enough of the coupon off and stick it out of the book so the toll taker could easily grab it as you kept rolling by.
Because I worked across the river I would get to know the toll workers quite well. There was one particular woman who was quite attractive and wore the biggest engagement ring you ever saw. She would always grab your ticket and give you a sweet smile, brightening up an otherwise miserable commute on I-84.
Now that toll booths are coming down, many people are concerned for those Hudson Valley toll workers' jobs. What will happen to those friendly employees who will no longer need to make change?
The New York State Bridge Authority has assured everyone that toll workers will "continue to be there for you." In a posting on their Facebook page, the NYSBA says that the bridges will continue to remain fully staffed.
For the safety of our patrons and the secure and seamless operation of our bridges, we will continue to have operations employees at the five Authority bridges during the same hours that they are currently staffed. Additionally, all bridges will continue to have 24/7 security monitoring through our Command Center.
While the NYSBA admits there will be some layoffs, they will be primarily part-time toll collectors. According to the statement, the bridge authority says that every interviewee who has applied for a toll job over the past decade has been informed about plans to move to the new cashless system. The agency claims that many who have accepted these positions have either maintained a second job or taken employment knowing it was just going to be temporary.