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No E-ZPass Fee, Says Sen. Howell

Count Janet Howell in among those who oppose VDOT's proposed $1 a month fee.

State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) says she opposes the proposed $1 a month fee to use E-ZPass.

The Virginia Department of Transportation, which operates E-ZPass, the transponder that lets motorists automatically move through toll booths, said last month it is

The announcement has been met with disdain by many citizens, including Howell.

"The automated toll lanes were originally set up as an efficiency device to save VDOT money, require fewer employees, and move traffic more efficiently," Howell said in a letter to VDOT Commisioner Gregory Whirley. "As the system has become widely accepted and heavily used, this surely continues as a more efficient, less costly way of collecting tolls. After implementing it to save money and resources, it is punitive to penalize those who use E-ZPass by charging for its use. Drivers pay a user fee (toll) to use the toll roads and now will be charged what is essentially a tax to use the more efficient automated system. "

"If this plan is put in place, drivers who use the toll roads less frequently may opt out of E-ZPass, contributing to already heavy traffic congestion at toll entrances and exits," Howell wrote. "The Virginia Department of Transportation is not held in high regard by the general public. Adding this cost will increase the disdain of an already skeptical public. I urge you to reconsider the idea to charge for use of E-ZPass and work for more comprehensive transportation planning and funding."

VDOT is taking public comment on the cost through June 12. To comment: Go to www.virginiadot.org/e-zpass or submit your comments directly to vdotinfo@vdot.virginia.gov. Or, mail them to: Office Communications ­Third Floor/Annex Bldg. Virginia Department of Transportation, 1401 E. Broad St. Richmond, VA 23219

Frank Sogandares June 07, 2012 at 04:38 PM
i have a transponder and used to use the tollroad frequently. The rates went up (again) for LESS service (Reston-to-Tysons, since the construction began) so it's actually a much worse value than it used to be. Now I can use free alternate routes that are actually faster at rush hour. To me, the time spent traveling is the important part... the extra dollar a month isn't going to help the traffic. I think people will pay more if their time-spent-driving is *predictable* and small. They will not pay more for more uncertainty and longer drive-times. This fee would have addressed neither of these
novatom June 07, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Completely agree with you Fran. I always wondered why EZ Pass users didn't get a discount. We should for the very reasons you mention.
Frank Sogandares June 07, 2012 at 06:21 PM
agreed. although when they first implemented the same kind of system for the Dallas North Tollroad in Dallas, TX (perhaps 25 years ago?) they charged MORE for the convenience of a tolltag. Unfortunately, the logic works both ways. I like the version where tolltag users pay less though...
Carlos Montoya June 07, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Agree and that's my point. People who use the toll road once or twice a month will pay the same dollar as those who use the toll road twice a day. If they begin to think the dollar extra is not worth the four or five buck they're paying and mail the transponder back then both the frequent use (more congestion due to more cash customers) and the government (less revenue) will pay.
Lilguy June 07, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Hmmmmm, Sen. Howell, is your commitment to "no $1 EZ Pass charges" every bit as strong as your commitment to "no $17 tolls on the Dulles Toll Road?" If so, who cares?

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