Posted in: Commentary,
by Patrick DeHaan on Jul 23, 2010 01:04 PM
With the increase of toll roads across America, technology behind making those roads easier to navigate and faster has certainly improved. The only issue becomes embracing the technology for motorists. Many times motorists are slow to adapt to improvements in such systems. Many states that have toll roads now offer an easier way to pay compared to stopping and handing out coins or cash- a responder tied to a bank account tied to the toll system that automatically deducts money where each toll booth is.
Some areas, such as Illinois, have doubled their toll rates to cash paying motorists while essentially keeping the rates the same for people who pre-pay and use a transponder. While many consider this unfair, consider the amount of manpower it takes to accept cash, make deposits, and maintain lanes for cash only. Automated lanes offer near highway speed transactions and typically are cheaper than paying in cash because the cost of operation is much lower.
The only issue for some is getting a transponder box, making a first time deposit, and keeping up to date. Some want the best of both- not to buy a transponder but pay less than the cash lanes. Using this method, they use the cheaper, automated lanes, then get home and pay the toll online for the lower price. While this is band-aid solution to not having money at the time, it should never be a permanent solution. Should you forget to pay just one toll, you'll be slapped with a letter and a much larger find. Suddenly that 25-cent toll is $25, $50, or even $100. With that amount, you could have purchased a transponder and put a hefty amount into the account.
Bottom line is to check ahead if you'll be taking toll roads, and if you travel those roads frequently, or even a few times a year, it may easily be worth it to buy a transponder. Funds typically don't expire and are easily reloaded manually or automatically. Its a lot less pain thinking about tolls when you're breezing under a toll booth at 65mph.
Don't be behind the technology curve- if you live in such an area, get a transponder and don't risk the hefty fines of missing just one toll payment. Serious offenders can also have their licenses suspended. All for a 25-cent toll. Worth it? No way.