You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get an E-Z Pass “Green Pass” tag – which entitles holders to a 10% discount on New York Thruway tolls, and is designed to help promote the adoption of “hybrid and alternative fuel cars”. You’d think a 100% electric car – with no emissions at all – would qualify and be welcomed to the program like a celebrity at a night club. You’d be wrong.
I first made the application back in June, and quickly got a form rejection letter stating that “Your vehicle does not meet the requirements for a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle”. Now I don’t even drive on the NYS Thruway regularly, but the injustice of it all just killed me. So I made a second application, and followed up with a phone call. The person I spoke with sounded very pleasant and eager to help, and agreed that MINI E #217 should get a Green Tag, and that they would be looking out for my new application.
About a week later I got the identical rejection form letter in the mail.
At this point it became mostly a principle thing with me, so for my third application I did my research and was able to fax a paper along with the application that shows the car meets the standards as a “California Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (which EZ Pass NY uses as the basis for granting Green Pass status). I even had a funny moment when a weary EZ Pass NY employee and I got into a low-level circular discussion on the topic of what qualifies as “Super Ultra Low”:
EZ Pass: “Sir, according to my screen, your car isn’t a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle”
Me: “Well, it doesn’t have any emissions at all…it’s Super Ultra Nothing Emissions really.”
EZ Pass: “Sir, it isn’t a SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) then.”
Me: “But isn’t the point of the Green Pass program to promote low emissions? And isn’t Zero about as low as you can get?”
EZ Pass: “It may be, but it isn’t Super Ultra Low.”
Me: “So if I had some emissions, that would let me get a Green Pass?”
EZ Pass: “It seems that way.”
Me: “Maybe I could hook up a small gasoline engine to the car, like they have in model airplanes?”
EZ Pass: “(Laughing) You can call us back then I suppose.”
Then, out of the blue, I received a new EZ Pass Green Tag in the mail a couple of weeks later. And the EZ Pass site now lists MINI COOPER E as a qualified car. The lesson here? Living ahead of bureaucratic categories isn’t always easy, but it can be entertaining!