Last weekend, as weather improved and stay-at-home orders relaxed, the Mackinac Bridge saw an uptick in traffic and delays – and some impatience from customers.
As on a typical weekend, northbound traffic was particularly heavy on Friday between 2 and 6 p.m., along with heavy southbound traffic Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., while the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s (MBA) temporary restriction on cash transaction slowed toll payments, resulting in some traffic backups.
“To help slow the spread of COVID-19, we stopped taking cash payments in mid-March. While credit cards take only a few seconds longer to process, that delay adds up during traffic peaks,” said MBA Executive Secretary Kim Nowack. “This change helps keep customers and our staff safe, and we ask that customers be patient and kind to our employees who are just trying to do their jobs during this stressful time”
Customers might also consider crossing the bridge at other times to avoid peak traffic. Traffic is expected to increase this weekend as well, particularly on Memorial Day for southbound traffic.
Until further notice, Mackinac Bridge customers will need to pay with a credit or debit card, or use a MacPass card or windshield sticker. If drivers wish to pay with credit or debit cards, the toll collector will hold the credit card device out to the driver so they can insert their card. Drivers will not need to hand their cards to the toll collector. Other payment types on phones, including Google Pay and Apple Pay, also are accepted.
Information on this new payment policy is posted on the MBA website, www.MackinacBridge.org, and on the toll plaza marquee.
Frequently asked questions:
Why is the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) temporarily halting cash payments amid the COVID-19 outbreak?
This temporary measure to stop the exchange of cash may help to protect MBA toll staff as well as the customers they service. Paying with cash and requiring change being handed back to a customer creates additional contact points that are unnecessary as we work to practice social distancing.
What can customers do to reduce their risk while making payment at a bridge crossing? Customers are being encouraged to reduce their contact with toll staff by paying with credit/debit cards or a MacPass device. If drivers wish to pay with credit or debit cards, the toll collector will hold the credit card device out to the driver so they can insert their card. Drivers will not need to hand their cards to the toll collector.
While paying with a credit/debit card does not create a touchless payment, it does reduce the contagion potentially exchanged during payment between both the customer and the toll staff. In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, customers are also encouraged to increase their hand washing and avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Is there an option to eliminate any contact between the customer and the toll staff?
The MBA offers a pre-paid toll account called MacPass that uses a windshield-mounted sticker that is scanned when passing through the toll booths at the bridge, requiring no contact with toll staff. More information on the MacPass, and how to open an account, is available at https://MacPass.MackinacBridge.org/Login.
Phone-based payments, including Google Pay and Apple Pay, are also accepted.
What can customers do if they reach the toll booth and do not have a credit/debit card or MacPass?
Toll collectors will provide instructions for payment for customers who only have cash available. The move to eliminate cash is a precautionary measure to reduce person-to-person contact and is not intended to completely eliminate travel, especially when deemed necessary.
Who can customers direct questions to?
Customer questions can be directed to the MBA at 906-643-7600 or visit the MBA website at www.MackinacBridge.org.
Where can we find more information about the COVID-19 outbreak and managing the spread?