The days are numbered for Garden State Parkway tokens, today’s Star-Ledger reports.
The board of commissioners of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the parkway, is expected to vote today to stop accepting the quarter-size nickle and brass tokens at parkway toll booths at the end of this year. That would leave motorists with just seven months to use ’em or lose ’em, the Sledger’s Tom Feeney writes.
This chapter in the 54-year history of the Parkway was not supposed to come to such an abrupt end. Officials once believed the tokens would fade gently away.
The last roll of them was sold to the motoring public on Jan. 1, 2002, as a way to nudge drivers toward E-ZPass.
Since then, tokens collected at the toll booths have been immediately removed from circulation. Officials at the New Jersey Highway Authority — the agency that operated the Parkway before it was merged with the Turnpike Authority — believed the stream of tokens at its toll booths would eventually slow to a trickle.
But the tokens have continued to flow.
Six and a half years after the last one was sold, about 13,000 a month continue to drop into toll booths, Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe Orlando said.
Those tokens represent only a small fraction — one-tenth of 1 percent — of the transactions handled every month on the Parkway.
They are such a small percentage that it is no longer economically feasible for the authority to handle them, Orlando said.
Feeney reports that about 53 million tokens were produced between 1981 and 2001. Some 20 million of those were in the possession of parkway officials before the last roll was sold, and that more than half of the remaining 33 million have been collected and removed from circulation since January 2002.
Red Bank Councilman Michael DuPont is the turnpike board’s treasurer.