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Halifax Harbour Bridges studying feasibility of all electronic tolling

Cameras have been temporarily installed in each of the cash lanes on both the Macdonald and MacKay bridges
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The MacKay Bridge (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

Halifax Harbour Bridges is currently conducting a study to find out if they will be able to one day go cashless.

They've temporarily installed cameras in each of the cash lanes on both the Macdonald and MacKay bridges to get a better idea of where those who pay by loonie to cross the harbour are from.

"We're simply, over a period of 90 days, taking photographs of the licence plates, identifying what state or province they are from, and tabulating it," CEO Steve Snider told NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show. "Once the tabulation is done, we'll just dispose of the files."

Snider said, right now, around 75 per cent of bridge users have a MacPass, allowing them to electronically pay a reduced rate.

If the bridge is able to go cashless, Snider said it's possible those without the pass could have their licence plates photographed and then have bills mailed to them.

"More than likely have two, three or four transactions occur before we stuff an envelope, lick a stamp and send a bill," he said. "So we wouldn't be chasing each and every transaction."

The survey started last week and is expected to last 90 days.

"No personal information about the owner of the plate will be collected and no images of the vehicles or people driving the vehicles will be identified," said a news release from Halifax Harbour Bridges.

After the licence plate survey, Snider said they'll have a consultant dig through the data.

If they determine a cashless system is the way forward, it could take two to three years to have it designed and developed.

"Part of our reason for doing this is our toll system is at the end of its useful life. It was first installed in 2007, so we're now 11 going on 12 years old," he said. "Computer systems really have a life of 7 to 10 years so we're pushing that a bit."

If the future of Halifax's bridges is loonie-less, Snider expects about 25 jobs would be eliminated, but they would need to hire around the same number of people to go through the licence plate images and send out the bills.




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