WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is also holding a series of hearings this month in preparation for the Massachusetts Turnpike’s new all electronic tolling system, which is scheduled to go live in October.
Once the new system is in place, drivers without an E-ZPass will get charged more money for driving on the Mass Pike, something several drivers have already spoken out against.
Chicopee resident Dennis Paul told 22News he doesn’t think it’s fair since some residents might not know how to get an E-ZPass to begin with. “I don’t think it’s the greatest idea. I think these people just don’t have the opportunity to get it, so now they’re going to be charged extra,” he said.
You can avoid the extra charge by signing up for an E-ZPass at a Customer Service Center, AAA, in the mail, or on MassDOT’s website. The transponders are free, but you must start with a minimum of $20 in your account.
If you connect your E-ZPass account to a credit card or banking number, the money will then be automatically withdrawn whenever your balance gets low. Many people use that option, but it’s not required.
There’s also a manual account option, where you can use a credit card, debit card, or cash to load money into your account yourself. You can do so by visiting any of the walk-in Customer Service Centers, using a self-service kiosk at retail cash payment locations, or sending a check to the E-ZPass MA Customer Service Center, at 27 Midstate Drive in Auburn.
Once the new system goes live in October, there will no longer be traffic lights at toll booths to warn you when your balance is low.
That gives people who manually reload their accounts two options, sign up to have MassDOT notify you when your balance drops below $10, or check your balance online.
Shawn Carey of Westfield told 22News he gets reminders from MassDOT. “I prepay, so I pay them a certain amount and when it dwindles down they give me a warning and let me know. I send them a check, and when it gets low they let me know,” he said.
MassDOT’s series of hearings will start Tuesday, September 6th in Worcester and continue throughout the month. One of those hearings will take place at City Hall in Springfield on Wednesday, September 14th, at 6:30 p.m.