MTA Bridges and Tunnels announced the launch of a new MTA Reload Card today in a pilot program that for the first time gives customers the freedom to add cash to their E-ZPass account at 2,500 retail stores throughout New York region.
The Card is designed to serve existing E-ZPass users who have cash-based accounts and to attract customers who haven’t yet utilized E-ZPass because making cash payments to the account was not very convenient.
In the past E-ZPass customers had to go to one of three walk-in centers in Yonkers, Queens or Staten Island to add cash. Now it is as simple as going to one of thousands of Visa ReadyLink retail merchants throughout the city and across the country, presenting the MTA Reload Card and adding cash that will be directly transferred into an E-ZPass account.
“We surveyed customers who still wait on line to pay a cash toll and many of them told us that we needed to make cash payment on E-ZPass accounts more convenient,” said MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara. “We listened and hope the MTA Reload Card will meet their needs and they will become E-ZPass customers.”
Of the nearly 2.2 million MTA E-ZPass accounts, a majority (88.4 percent) replenishes their accounts via credit or debit cards, and 11.6 percent or about 250,000 customers pay using cash or checks.
The cost of the pilot program is minimal since it uses an existing network. “One of the key benefits of this program is that we did not have to build anything,” said Bridges and Tunnels Chief Financial Officer Donald Spero. “Instead we are taking an existing private sector system, Visa Inc.‘s Network (VisaNet), and adapting it to serve a public purpose.”
Here’s how it works:
Using the Reload Card customers can add a minimum of $20 or more in cash to their accounts. The funds will be available for use within 24 hours.
There is a transaction fee charged by the retailer, ranging from $1 to $5. This is not an MTA or a Visa fee. The MTA has negotiated lower transaction fees with several VisaReady Link MoneyGram agents, including CVS, Duane Reade, and Walmart. These retailers will charge between $1 and $2 per transaction, which customers will recoup after only two trips because the E-ZPass discount is $1.70 at most MTA crossings. For a list of preferred retailers go to www.ezpassny.com/retailerlocator and add your zip code to find the nearest store.
Customers who opt in will be sent e-mails or text messages when their accounts have a low balance.