By David Helwig
Sunday, July 22, 2007
All you have to do is swipe one of the new IQ Prox cards within six inches of the card reader and the gate will rise.
Although the cards go on sale tomorrow, they can't be used until 6 a.m. on Monday, July 30.
Will you be able to transfer trips from your old IQ Card onto the new Prox Card?
Peter Petainen, the bridge's chief financial officer, offers this answer:
"The cards themselves do not contain any account balance or monetary value. Balances are maintained in our toll software.
"We will not be issuing new accounts to existing customers, but are instead 'upgrading' or 'swapping' a customer's existing IQ Cards for the published fee to the new Proximity Card.
"Customers that are not registered will be required to register their account in order to receive/purchase a IQ Prox Card.
"Customers will be able to get the replacement of their existing IQ Card with an IQ Prox Card only in our offices, and not in the toll booth.
"Account balances, account numbers, card numbers all remaining unchanged for the customer.
"I'm strongly encouraging commuting bridge customers to stop at our office to get their Prox card at their earliest convenience, on or after July 23.
"The account manager and assisting office staff will be able to answer all customer account questions, as well as provide customers with lane hours of operation, lane traffic and safety usage, and most importantly their new Proximity Card.
"The IQ Prox Card program is an optional program for bridge customers, not a required program. It is designed for commuter convenience."
Here, meanwhile, is the official announcement from the International Bridge Administration:
Technology update arriving soon for International Bridge customers
International Bridge customers can soon purchase a new proximity toll card, called the "IQ Prox Card," which will help them shave even more time from their trip across the bridge.
Customers will be able to purchase an IQ Prox Card beginning Monday, July 23, and start using them at 6 a.m., Monday, July 30.
Customers will pass the new card within six inches of a card reader device installed in the automated lanes.
The toll will be automatically deducted from their account, a gate will rise, and drivers can be on their way.
"Commuters are a significant portion of our customer base, and we try to make crossing the International Bridge as quick and hassle-free as possible," said Phil Becker, general manager of the International Bridge Administration (IBA). "We believe our commuter customers will appreciate the convenience and time savings, however slight, this new system offers."
The Prox Cards will be available for purchase at the toll administration building sales office from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, for a one-time fee per card of $5 (U.S.) or $6.25 (Canadian).
Deposit procedures remain the same as with the standard IQ card, with customers asked to purchase additional trips at a staffed toll booth.
In addition to the ease of use and time saved in the lanes, each card will be registered to the customer.
In the event a card is lost or stolen, the IBA can close the account and transfer any remaining balance to a new card.
All toll lanes have a card reader for Prox Card use, located near the toll attendant inside the booth.
The outside lanes, both northbound and southbound, will be dedicated for automated Prox Card use, with readers installed on the toll booth exterior.
The two automated lanes will be unstaffed, but equipped with a lift gate that will rise when the Prox Card is passed in front of the reader.
Other staffed booths also will accept Prox Cards. However, these will be processed by a collector, similar to the regular IQ Card.
Current IQ Cards will not function as Prox Cards, which are enhanced with an embedded radio frequency identification device (RFID) chip.
On July 23, the IBA will begin distributing instructions to customers on the card purchase process.