NY State To Eliminate Cash Option At Tollbooths, Will Now Accept Squirrel Pelts Only

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MTA Officials says preparing a squirrel pelt like this one is ideal for bridge and tunnel crossings.

In a move certain to anger New York motorists, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), working in cooperation with the state’s Bureau of Wildlife, will no longer accept cash at bridge and tunnel toll plazas, instead instituting a “squirrel pelts only” policy.

The unusual proposal, announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday, will go into affect on January 1, 2017. “As anyone with a bird feeder in this state knows, our squirrel population is out of control,” said Cuomo. “By eliminating cash and accepting only squirrel hides as payment at bridges, tunnels, and toll roads, the state will not only receive valuable goods for trade, but will also dramatically reduce the rapidly growing number of these ubiquitous rodents.”

The conversion to payment by squirrel pelt heralds the end of an 80-year-old practice in the state, whereby toll collectors would extend a hand, accept cash, and count change. State officials hope that by adapting a universal “One Fur Per Crossing” policy, they will significantly reduce congestion and allow drivers to move through cash-only lanes without the delays experienced while toll collectors languish through the change making process.

During Thursday’s rush hour, commuters at tollbooths did not seem happy with the new plan, reacting angrily. “Where the f — k am I going to get a squirrel pelt?” said Marcia Clinder, a Queens bookkeeper who drives into Manhattan via the Midtown Tunnel and had not heard about the new policy until questioned by a reporter. “There ain’t no squirrels on the 15th floor of my apartment building. This is crazy.”

Robert Lungren, a stock trader who commutes by car via the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, seemed concerned but also intrigued by the new rule. “I do have a bird feeder on my patio and squirrels are definitely infuriating — I just hope I can catch enough of the pests to cover my daily commute.”

The governor responded to these and similar concerns by stating that there would be a grace period of one month while motorists set traps in yards and parks, and rig snares in nearby trees. “This move is part of a national trend and we worked closely with the AAA on feasibility studies. If given a chance, we believe that both motorists and homeowners are going to be extremely happy with the results.

Corey Smetter, the president of the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association, who appeared with the governor at the news conference, asked that motorists dry squirrel pelts for at least 3 days after skinning before bringing them to toll plazas. “We don’t want our toll collectors handling and stacking fresh pelts with blood or offal still attached. That wouldn’t be sanitary or safe.” Smetter also asked that buckshot be completely removed from any pelts used in exchange at tollbooths.

Sensing an emerging business opportunity, software programmers in the tri-state area are developing apps that will allow inner city residents to receive squirrel pelts from rural residents of neighboring states as part of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) deliveries.

The governor closed the news conference by displaying a particularly large squirrel pelt that he had personally secured in his own backyard, adding with a satisfied smile, “I guess this gnawing nuisance won’t be stealing sunflower seeds from sweet little chickadees and nuthatches anymore.”

Questions and concerns about the new “squirrel pelts only” policy may be directed to nyc.gov@mta.com.

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