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VDOT Weighing Monthly Fee for E-ZPass

Motorists: Give your opinion to the agency by June 12.

Virginia E-ZPass, the Department of Transportation program that gives automatic transponders to motorists to speed up travel at toll booths, is considering a $1 monthly fee to cover administrative and operations costs.

In an e-mail to E-ZPass customers, program administrators said the number of users is expected to double over the next several years as new toll roads open. The fee will help cover administrative and operations costs.

"VDOT has the utmost understanding that E-ZPass operations brings
convenience and efficiency to toll operations. E-ZPass allows for electronic toll collection at Virginia toll facilities and lessens the need for manual collection," the email said. "However, there is a cost to providing the service to the participating toll facilities, most of which are not operated by VDOT."  

The proposed monthly fee would cover costs for: Buying nearly one-half million transponders; implementing a retail program where transponders can be obtained at various stores in Northern Virginia and eventually Hampton Roads; providing service at select DMV locations; upgrading information technology to accommodate the expanded program; account management and processing of toll transactions (managing billing of all transactions); customer service and the operations of three customer service centers.

VDOT is accepting comments on the proposed monthly fee through June 12 at 5 p.m. It expects to have a decision later in June.

All comments will be reviewed and taken into consideration prior to the final decision on the proposed fee structure, VDOT said.

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

j May 31, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Collecting tolls via EZPass has to be much cheaper than collecting quarters in the toll baskets, especially considering the sticky fingers that are typical of people who work jobs like toll booth attendants. If this proposal goes into effect, I will turn in my EZPass transponders and pay my tolls with twenty dollar bills.
Dick Sziede May 31, 2012 at 04:09 PM
This new fee - really a tax is sheep's clothing - falls hardest on those who can least afford it. Those on small fixed incomes. E-ZPass collects tolls from users of toll roads. Dandy. The new fee collects tolls from non-users of toll roads. We who use toll roads only occasionally truly resent paying a toll for not using toll roads. Mr. Plum, I realize you will never lose an election in N. VA, so I have no vote to offer. But please in the name of common sense, use your influence on VDOT. Collect whatever revenues are needed by increasing tolls, not by taxing the elderly retired among your constituents.
Richard Holmquist May 31, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I'll be sure to send my comments to www.virginiadot.org/e-zpass. I was among the first in Virginia to get an E-Z Pass transponder when the Coleman Bridge opened in Gloucester. I'll be among the first to return it and pay cash if, as Dick Sziede above says, they "toll for not using toll roads." They should fund their administrative costs through the tolls, not with an additional fee.
Jason May 31, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Increase in administrative costs? I will give them back my transponder. Then I will go through the booth and get a unpaid receipt for each direction. Then i will go to my online banking and pay each toll individually that way they get 4 checks a day from me. That will be an average of 80 checks each month that they will have to manually process. I carry no cash and won't. I am sure my bank will love sending 80 checks a month to VDOT but hey it is free for online customers.
Jennifer May 31, 2012 at 08:30 PM
You aren't required to maintain your e-z pass account in your homestate. If you don't want to pay the monthly fee, turn in your Virginia one and get one from a different agency.
Stuart Rakoff May 31, 2012 at 10:01 PM
So lets think about how this works. If I make 80 trips through the tollbooth every month, but now have to wait in line to pay cash (or not pay as Jason suggests) I probably will spend 4-5 minutes in line for each transaction. So thats about 6 hours a month wasted. For that I save a whole dollar. That values my time at - wait - heavy calculating - at about 16 cents per hour. Sounds like a good trade off to me. Mailing my EZ-Pass tonight.
Richard Holmquist June 01, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Stuart, there are thousands who may choose not to participate in the program, potentially causing longer toll booth back-ups that will delay your trips anyway. The toll collection fees should simply be paid as they always have - through the tolls that are collected. Maybe that raises the cost of tolls by a nickel across the system. It's heavy users of the toll roads like you who should be paying a larger part of the administrative costs rather than those who may use the road only once or twice a month.
Richard Holmquist June 01, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Great point, Jennifer. Do you know for sure that one can register across state lines?
Arja Sahramaa June 01, 2012 at 11:21 AM
A fee on the EZ Pass program users seems so counter intuitive. We use no attendant, we use less gasoline since we drive through the tollbooth instead of waiting in the cash lines, and most of us (if not all) pay for the pass charges electronically, without a bill. Huh. I've always thought that the EZ Pass users should pay a lower toll feel than the nonusers, for all the savings in time, effort, energy that we represent. Could we have a breakdown of the costs for a cash booth and EZ Pass booth, please, so we could compare apples to apples and not two very different systems?
andi f. June 01, 2012 at 11:59 AM
In Florida they actually discount the toll for people who have "sun passes" so the fact that they want to charge me $12 extra a year is bogus! The least they could do is grandfather in current pass holders and lay the fee on anyone going forward. Maybe if they'd somehow advance their systems to read license plates like they do in states such as Fl they wouldn't need all the employees. I realize this cuts jobs, but I have a feeling it's going to anyway.
LD June 01, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I "rent" a transponder thru the PA turnpike - my admin fees won't be going up. Go to another state - NJ, DE, etc.
Bethany Hannan June 01, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Yes - you can definitely register for another state's EZ Pass. Mine is from NY.
Stu Gibson June 01, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Sounds like we need to do two things: 1. Tell VDOT that the "costs" they plan to cover with this new fee should be coming out of their operating budget (especially given the savings that we EZ Pass users generate for VDOT); and 2. We should definitely turn in our Virginia transponders, and get our transponders from a state that does not impose a fee for saving them money.
Stu Gibson June 01, 2012 at 12:52 PM
VDOT is under the control of Gov. McDonnell, not our representative whose party is in the minority in the House of Delegates. It might be more productive to ask our Governor to direct VDOT not to impose this fee.
Local Resident June 01, 2012 at 01:42 PM
VDOT needs to account for the additional expense of processing all of the transponders that will be returned. I currently have two VA E-Z Pass transponders. However, I will get two transponders from a state without a fee if this passes. I previously had transponders from NJ and MD; but replaced them when those states starting assessing monthly fees.
Peter Paul van Dijk June 01, 2012 at 02:27 PM
What annoys me is that VDOT is proposing to charge customers a flat fee indefinitely for budget items that are discrete and finite, or should fairly be charged elsewhere . Purchasing another half million transponders should be recouped through a higher deposit. Setting up retail networks and service at DMV should incur minimal extra costs - shopkeepers should welcome additional customers into their shops. DMV is another branch of VA govt, and well, we give them a wide berth anyway. Managing billing of transactions -- well, the beauty of EZPass is that there are minimal physical billing costs. But VDOT trying to recover costs, from subscribers, for its providing toll collection services for participating tollbooths not operated by VDOT takes the cake - if 3rd-party operators represent a net cost to VDOT, then they should charge those third-party operators - not the people who reliably maintain a positive balance in their EZPass accounts and whose sliver of interest goes to VDOT. For the amount of use we give our transponder, I can afford the time and extra fuel to avoid the tollway, or go through a cash lane with a roll of quarters and dollars, to save that $12 per year.
johnson June 01, 2012 at 03:14 PM
So they interest earned from or EZpass balance isn't enough.
Ramias June 03, 2012 at 02:18 AM
This is offensive. If the costs of EZPass transponders has risen, charge that cost when new transponders are issued to new customers. If it is expensive to add EZ Pass to the new beltway HOT lanes, then charge higher fees to the HOT operator (who will then have to raise tolls). It is bad enough that users commuting from Kingstowne to Reston have to pay high tolls on the Dulles Toll Road in order to pay for Metro to make commutes easier for wealthy suburbanites, but now sticking an "admin" fee -- even to those with little to no usage in any given month, is offensive. Everybody -- be sure to make your feelings known to VDOT.
arlene butler June 05, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Putting a monthly charge on to my inconsistent use of ezpass is an unfair burden. To have to pay $12 a year to be able to pay the few tolls that I use I think is highway robbery! Apparently the tolls before the EZ Pass, included enough money to be able to pay people to staff the toll collection booths & the administrative costs. Where's that money? The savings should be allocated to fund EZPASS. Where's the money that sits in your coffers that has been charged to my credit card that I have not used yet? Aren't you investing that money & then spending it after the toll road has been used? I can only imagine the huge amount of money that should be in this aspect of the tolls unused. What happens to the money that is unclaimed when someone stops using the transponder because it breaks or gets lost & the customer does not claim it? You are making money off of EZPASS! Do you really need to fleece more money off the customer??? Aren’t you having more ways to collect the tolls with the transponders and why not make that your priority than to collect another toll to collect the tolls! I do not want to have to pay the same amount per year as the person that uses the toll roads everyday when I MAY only use them several times a month! I don’t think the frequent user should have to pay either. I believe the cost of the program is already built into the tolls that are currently charged. This is greed on steroids! You are smart people….find another way.
sam June 12, 2012 at 01:22 PM
In actuality the government is going down a very slippery slope. Essentially they are forcing citizens to pay a premium for efficiency. So now the government has an incentive to cause traffic issues so that individuals will pay to avoid traffic. This same policy is being imposed on the express lanes on 495. The government is essentially saying we will cause traffic issues in certain areas in order to increase revenues by offering the ability to go around traffic for a fee.

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