As the cost of road maintenance continues to rise, many states are turning to electronic toll collection as a way to recoup some of their expenses. In most cases, using an E-ZPass or a similar electronic toll system means paying less (or no) cash when coming through an express lane on a bridge or highway. To use an E-ZPass, drivers purchase a transponder for about $25 and attach it to their windshield so that sensors can read it. Instead of stopping at a toll booth and handing the attendant cash, drivers simply drive past small antennas that read the transponder. At some point later on top online casinos, they’ll get notifications from their auto insurance company alerting them that they owe money. Read on to learn more about how electronic tolls work, including details about E-ZPass and its alternatives.
What is an E-ZPass?
E-ZPass is the most popular of all the electronic toll systems. It started in New York more than two decades ago and has since expanded to 26 states (plus Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). It’s also used as a way to collect data about travel patterns, which can be used for everything from traffic management to emergency response planning. E-ZPass operates similarly to how a subway fare works. When you drive through the E-ZPass lane, your transponder is read and the information is uploaded to a central computer system. Later, when your E-ZPass account is updated with your latest travels, the system sends you a bill based on the distance traveled. E-ZPass users can log into an account online and set up automatic payments, or set up a payment plan to pay off their balance over a period of time online casino australia.
How do Electronic Toll Collection Systems Work?
When you drive through an electronically-operated toll booth, your car’s license plate is scanned and the information is sent to a central computer system. If you have an E-ZPass account, the computer system will look up your account, calculate the toll from the distance your car traveled, and deduct the toll from your account. If you don’t have an E-ZPass account, the system will send you a bill in the mail with the toll amount, your license plate number, and your car make and model. E-ZPass (and similar systems) have different ways of collecting tolls depending on the situation. – Toll Booths: At toll booths, the car is scanned but the driver must still stop and pay cash or show a pass. Depending on the system, vehicles with E-ZPass transponders may get a discounted or free rate. – On-ramps: At on-ramps, sensors can scan vehicles and deduct the toll amount. – Dedicated E-ZPass Lanes: On some highways, certain lanes are dedicated to E-Z-pass only. When you go through one of these lanes, your transponder is read and the toll is collected. – Carpool lanes: Some carpool lanes have E-ZPass options, too.
Who Operates Electronic Tolls?
State governments own the highways, so they decide whether to charge for use. For those that do, private companies often manage the toll operations and billing. These private companies have contracts with the state that usually involve collecting and paying back a certain amount per mile, as well as maintenance of the toll infrastructure. Some states, like Virginia, also have public-private partnerships for toll operations. In these partnerships, private companies collect the tolls and pay the state a specified amount per mile traveled, then subcontract with the state to manage toll operations and billing.
Pros of Electronic Tolls
– Speed: One of the biggest advantages is that the system is simple and quick. Not only will you save time by not having to stop and pay cash, but other drivers in the lane won’t be slowed down by people fumbling with bills. – Predictability: Since you can set up automatic payments, you don’t need to remember to pay, and you don’t need to worry about forgetting or being late with your payment. – No cash: Drivers often prefer not having to deal with cash. There is also much less risk of theft when paying electronically. – Data collection: The data collected from E-ZPass can be used for many things, such as traffic management and emergency response planning. – Carpool lane access: Many carpool lanes have E-ZPass as an option for single drivers.
Cons of Electronic Tolls
– Cost: The cost of an E-ZPass transponder isn’t cheap (about $25), and depending on where you live, the tolls could add up to a hefty price. – No control: Because the tolls are automatically deducted from your account, you don’t have control over them. If you receive a toll bill, you have to pay it, regardless of whether you feel it’s accurate. E-ZPass accounts can also be closed if you are behind on payments.
Electronic Toll Options: E-ZPass vs. Other Brands
While E-ZPass is the most popular electronic toll system, there are other brands that are used in different parts of the country. – SunPass: This is Florida’s electronic toll system. It’s used on Florida’s Turnpike, a few of its other major highways, and the majority of express lanes in the state. – I-Pass: This is Illinois’ toll system. It’s used on the Illinois Tollway, a few other major highways, and some express lanes in the state. – Toll Tag: Texas has this system, and it’s used on some highways and a few major toll roads. – TxTag: This is Texas’s toll system and is used on a few highways in the state.
Final Words: Is Using an Electronic Toll System Worth It?
No one likes paying tolls, but they are a reality in many parts of the country. If you drive often on major highways, it’s worth it to sign up for an E-ZPass account and get a transponder. If you don’t have an account, it’s even more important to log in to your account and mark your car as an exception, so you don’t get charged. E-ZPass accounts also make traveling between states more simple. If you travel regularly between states that have E-ZPass, you can get accounts in each state and link them together so you don’t have to manage multiple accounts.