CHARLESTON, W.Va.¬†—¬†Forty percent of current motorists on the West Virginia Turnpike use the EZ Pass system but that number is expected to go up, possibly significantly, when the West Virginia Parkways Authority approves a new unlimited use flat rate toll later this year.

Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr said it’s possible the increased number could force turnpike officials to add another EZ Pass lane at the three toll plazas by converting one of the current cash lanes but he still anticipates needing the same number of toll collectors.

“The national consultants that look at all electronic tolling say you really can’t really go to all electronic tolling until you get to 70 to 75 percent. I don’t think this program is going to get us there that quick,” Barr said.

The Parkways Authority currently handles 35,000 EZ Pass accounts. Barr said that number would have to go up significantly for the authority to think about reducing the number of toll collectors. He said the authority will deal with it on a gradual basis.

“We would be able to do that and not have to lay off people. It would just be attrition. When people retire we might not have to replace them,” Barr said.

The Parkways Authority will vote on a proposed flat rate EZ Pass for passenger motorists at its Feb. 1 meeting. A new state law says that annual rate can be anywhere from $8 a year to $25 a year. It will have to be offered to out-of-state motorists also.

Another change Barr wants to make is the ability to take credit cards at the toll plazas.

“We’ve got so many people that don’t carry cash now. We have a no-pay system that’s very cumbersome. We try to make it easy on the people (that don’t have cash) but the backside of it is a nightmare,” he said.

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