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And let's actually hear it for the Mass Pike
On a more positive note, I'd like to compliment the folks with the state highway department -- the transition of the Mass Pike is going better than I would have believed possible.

As it happens, I was actually *on* the Pike during "D-Day" last Friday evening, as they were shutting down the toll booths. (Just happened that I was coming home from Low Company at that hour.) They clearly hit the ground running -- by the time I took the Pike again a couple of days ago, a bunch of the booths were already gone, some key traffic patterns had been rerouted, and despite the dire warnings of, "It's likely to be like a snow storm", traffic was flowing pretty well. The acid test will be Thanksgiving, of course: I'm really curious whether the traditional hour-long backup at Exit 9 finally goes away.

I'm amused by the new fare model. Folks from out of town, be warned that driving into MA is going to hit you with a fair-sized bill in the mail -- the rates aren't crazy, but designed to cost a good deal extra if they have to bill you. And I'm curious: has anybody seen any actual algorithm for the way they've designed the new rates? I've actually been reading the eensy-weensy "this is how much money we just charged you" signs by the side of the road, and the ratios between the various fare classes appear to be *wildly* inconsistent. Like, it was 25/30/60 at one of them, and 30/60/100 at another. I can't find any rhyme or reason to it.

But all that said, it's looking good. It's tricky to compare the new fare model to the old one, since they think completely differently about it, but it *feels* like it's slightly cheaper for those of us with an in-state EZPass, and it's certainly easier and faster. It's a bit squicky from a privacy POV (surely somebody needs to write a murder mystery that involves one spouse tracking another through their highway bills), but it does seem likely to work well...

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I am really uncomfortable with the current trend towards "you can't do basic things like get around town unless you've previously signed up for a thing" (where "thing" could be a T pass or an EZ pass or a Lyft account or whatever).

I see where it makes things more convenient and efficient overall, but it feels like locking up more and more things and forcing everyone to jump through hoops to get into them -- and if you're a stranger or in an emergency or have some technical issue that makes jumping through the hoops difficult, then you're pretty much screwed.

(And, also, if you have to be electronically signed up for everything, then it's real hard to mitigate the surveillance state.)

I dunno. The future is great, and also terrible.

I can understand that, although keep in mind that they're not actually *preventing* anybody from doing anything, just making it somewhat more expensive if you're not signed up. (Although nothing like as insanely expensive as going through an EZPass lane without a transponder used to be.)

Still not a trivial consideration, granted, and I agree about the surveillance state, but in practice I suspect it's not much worse in that respect than it has been for some years already...

True; you can still drive on the highway. And I think you can technically still give cash to the bus driver (though I've never tried it).

It just seems like a trend we haven't quite thought through all the consequences of, if taken past transition to its logical conclusion. Like many things. :)

"more expensive" often approximately equals "prevented for poor people".

True, and that's what I was thinking of above. But the fee structure is essentially designed so that out-of-state visitors (who on average have more money to spend) are effectively subsidizing the people who are using the highway to commute. In practice, that is *probably* an overall win for the blue collar folks to whom it matters most, who have a strong incentive to get a (free) transponder and save money...

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Hmm. Interesting question, but I wouldn't speculate on that without first looking into whether there's a different rate for 18-wheelers. (And whether there was before.)

Er, tried to get an EZPass transponder without owning a car?

[There was a huge thread on this at work as many of us are carless, and rentals tend to charge (say) $8/day for letting you put $3.50 on your EZPass at the start and end of your week-long journey.]

Hunh. It hadn't occurred to me that they might be charging OOS EZPasses differently. I originally got one from NY since they didn't charge a signup fee.

Given where you live, it's probably worth investigating the difference in the fee structure -- it may well add up to enough to be worth getting a MA one...

oh yeah. thereis quite the surcharge for it. get the MA one... it too is free

We also have a NY EZPass and it seems like there are moderate hoops to jump through to get a MA one.

Took me 15 minutes at a physical location, and all but the last minute was standing in line. Website spewed data chunks all over me when I tried it there, because I think there was a broken pipe between the form and the payment processor.

Edited at 2016-11-04 06:03 pm (UTC)

One hoop, for those of us who don't own a car but do rent, is that you can't sign up without associating it with a vehicle.

(I'll probably cheat and use my mom's car in WA or something, but still....)

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"If you are renting a vehicle and have an E-ZPass MA account, you may temporarily add the vehicle’s license plate number to your account. Log into your account to add the vehicle on a temporary basis with a start and end date for your rental period."

Admittedly, the odds of them screwing up in this process are non-zero...but the odds of the rental company charging an usurious surcharge are 100%.

Looks like about a buck a trip. So definitely something I should do but not something I should worry about since I don't take the Pike every day.

Ditto. For OOS transponders your rate won't change. What is different now is that there is a -discount- for in state transponders. I guess that's them sharing the benefit of keeping the money in their coffers. And now there is no signup fee, so worth switching.

Toll calculator is at https://www.ezdrivema.com/TollCalculator and will show the differences between ma transponder, oos transponder, and no transponder.

My understanding from WBUR is that there is a 6 month grace window for those with no transponder.

For what it is worth, I had a NY transponder from back when it was FastLane and Citizens Bank took an extra leg just for you to -have- a transponder, forget the usage billing. The MA ezpass website was a bust for me to get MA transponders, but it was only a moment of work at the EZ Pass physical location.

Oh, and the transponder tracking has been an element in many different TV shows already (Law and Order, Sherlock leaping to mind, but I think all the major crime shows have done it now)... so I wouldn't be surprised to find it's already in a book.

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