E-ZPass may come to BWI

Electronic pass could speed access to airport garages, parking lots
Parking at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport could get a little easier.

Airport officials are working to add E-ZPass - the electronic payment system used on toll roads, bridges and tunnels - to BWI's parking garages and lots.

The system, popular in the Northeast, eliminates the need for drivers to stop at toll plazas. Drivers with the E-ZPass transponders in their cars travel through special lanes with equipment that reads the devices and deducts payments from drivers' prepaid accounts.

Paul J. Wiedefeld, the airport's executive director, said the goal is to have the system up and running within the next year.

"The whole objective is, you just to go through," Wiedefeld told the Maryland Aviation Commission last week.

But there are a lot of details that must be ironed out first, he said.

Kelly L. Melhem, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority, which regulates Maryland's E-ZPass system, said airport officials are looking into installing the E-ZPass Plus program.

"E-ZPass customers who automatically replenish their accounts with credit cards are eligible to pay parking fees with their E-ZPass transponders at facilities where the E-ZPass Plus logo is displayed," Melhem wrote in an e-mail.

"A customer's E-ZPass account will be debited for the parking fee if it is less than $20; parking fees greater than $20 will be charged directly to the credit card used to replenish the account."

Discussions are still in the early stages, Melhem said.

"There is a patent on the software logic that logs the length of time spent in a parking facility. We would explore this patent and its implications further based on any decisions made with the Maryland Aviation Administration," she said.

Wiedefeld said there would likely be a problem only if vehicles' E-ZPass transponders were used to measure the time a car is parked in a lot or garage. Simply paying through the system should be OK, he said.

Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for BWI, said the airport has one hourly garage and one daily garage, plus two long-term parking lots and one express lot. There are 28,300 public parking spaces at the airport, Dean said.

"BWI Marshall is widely recognized for its customer service and ease of use," Dean said. "This would simply be another tool to make the travel experience a positive one."

Melhem said E-ZPass Plus is available at parking facilities operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, including parking garages at La Guardia and at JFK International airports.

Ned Carey, the Maryland Aviation Administration's deputy executive director, said last week that Albany International Airport also has the system.

Wiedefeld said that to get an ideal of the demand, officials would also have to study how many people who park in the BWI lots have E-ZPass transponders.
BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport


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