Boondoggle: E-ZPass-friendly Plates Ordered by Cuomo Recalled

Boondoggle: E-ZPass-friendly Plates Ordered by Cuomo Recalled

New York - The old license plates were working fine in New York state. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted they had to be replaced because the state needed updated ones that worked better with E-ZPass technology. The department of motor vehicles agreed, and the new ones were scheduled for rollout on April 1.

The new model plates were quietly withdrawn, however, after they didn’t work. E-ZPass readers had a hard time processing them, and now Republicans are slamming Cuomo for the white elephant program.

“This is inexcusable,” said state Sen. Jim Tedisco, a Republican from Glenville. “Somebody goofed and you should be telling the truth.”

The claims Cuomo offered up as reasons for the need for the new plates were controversial from the beginning. Surveys showed that voters saw it as a justification to collect $25 per new plate, plus $20 for drivers who wanted to keep their old license plate number. A statewide competition for a plate design was widely panned as tilted to have the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge — formerly the Tappan Zee — on the new design.

The DMV responded by saying the new design would be gradually introduced and not all at once. The Cuomo bridge design also lost the competition.

And now the plate’s raison d’etre, to be able to better read with E-ZPass, also failed.

“From my understanding, E-ZPass can’t read the plates,” Rensselaer County Clark Frank Merola told the New York Post. “It reads one big block, no numbers.”

The state has already collected tens of thousands of plates and will reissue them when updated ones are ready. It appeared that the plates were “too reflective” for street cameras to catch the numbers.

“Early on,” DMV spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian said in a statement, “the state changed its manufacturing process once it was discovered that some of the new plates were too reflective, and while some have been shipped inadvertently to counties, none were issued to drivers.”

Photo by Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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