Bridge Boggin

Bridge Boggin

We couldn't believe it at first, so we did it again. Then we asked a friend to do it and it came out the same. So it's true, a roll of Newport Bridge tokens is possibly the biggest bargain in Rhode Island. Here's the deal: the cost to drive your car once over the bridge is $2. But if you hand the toll operator a $10 bill and ask for a roll of tokens, you get ten tokens and you get to drive over the bridge. That's eleven trips for $10, a savings of $12, or almost fifty-five percent off the full price! So why wouldn't you buy a roll of tokens, even if you only drive over the bridge a few times in a year? Keep 'em in your glove compartment—you'll use them eventually.

Pell Bridge tokens.

Update: Since writing the above, we came across a June 1969 Evening Bulletin article announcing the sale of discounted tokens. While we're somewhat chagrinned to find we trumpeted something that probably everyone but us knew about, we're amazed by the fact that this discount has been in place almost forty years. Can you name any other product or service that costs the same now as it did in 1969?

Update, May 2008: Tokens will soon be a thing of the past with the installation of the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system on the Newport Bridge. However, once you get past the $10 cost of your first transponder (a second is $15 and any other boxes will run you $20.95 each), the cost of the toll for Rhode Island residents will remain at 83 cents a pop for the foreseeable future (which matches the current cost of "bulk" tokens—$50 for sixty). The fare for drivers paying cash will remain at $2. The Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority plans to have the system in place by January 2009.

Update, July 2023: E-ZPass has for some years been the main toll collection method, with license plate readers being used to identify vehicles that lack the technology. (In-person cash and credit card transactions ceased at the Newport Pell Bridge toll plaza in October 2021). Non-residents with E-ZPass are charged $2 per axle, while anyone without a transponder is mailed a bill at $3 per axle. Residents with E-ZPass continue to enjoy the low, low price of just 83 cents per toll, when by all rights, accounting for fifty-four years of inflation, the cost ought to be around $7!

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