Do Your Cars Have Sensors To Pay Road Tolls Automatically?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 19, 2011 9:48 PM GMT
    We have that here in Florida, called SunPass. And I got curious about how common this technology is now throughout the US, or the world, having just finished an online session where I was updating some of my SunPass account data.

    In brief, drivers purchase a windshield transponder unit for a few dollars, create an account and put money into it, and can also arrange for automatic replenishing from a credit card. Road sensors at toll points detect a registered car rolling past and debit the account the appropriate amount. The car doesn't have to slow down, and in fact Florida has recently begun removing the former toll booths with gates where you stopped to pay cash. Now those toll roads are all open.

    (Cars without SunPass have their license plates photographed, and a bill sent to the listed address. It's not a violation or fine, unless you fail to pay promptly, including an additional processing fee, making SunPass the cheaper option)

    Technically it works quite well, and I have 3 SunPasses including a unit I keep just for our guests who drive in from out-of-state or who have rental cars. It's used on the Florida Turnpike, Interstate express lanes, some other expressways, a few bridges, and airport parking garages.

    My major concern is that it might lead to a proliferation of toll roads we didn't have before, because the road receivers are so relatively easy to install. I think OK when this more efficient method replaces existing manual toll booths, but will American "freeways" become a thing of the past? Your experiences with this technology and your thoughts?
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    Aug 19, 2011 10:38 PM GMT
    Here in Michigan we do not have toll roads, but you can purchase electronic passes for the bridges and tunnel to Canada. Most of us have to stop twice- once to pay and since it is an international border once to show your passport and for the security check. For those that live in one country and work in the other it can be very beneficial to have to only stop once. At busy times the wait for the bridge or tunnel at Detroit can be well over an hour.
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    Aug 19, 2011 10:38 PM GMT
    <-- SunPass
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    Aug 19, 2011 10:40 PM GMT
    Has been very common for over a decade. NE has EZ Pass, Virginia used to have Smart Tag and FasToll which merged with EZ Pass, California has FasTrack.
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    Aug 19, 2011 10:41 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidMy major concern is that it might lead to a proliferation of toll roads we didn't have before, ...
    You mean like the "express lane" between the Golden Glades interchange and I-395?
    I thought that was bullshit from day 1. Charging for the express lane should not be allowed. I stopped using it.
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    Aug 19, 2011 11:15 PM GMT
    paulflexes said
    Art_Deco saidMy major concern is that it might lead to a proliferation of toll roads we didn't have before, ...
    You mean like the "express lane" between the Golden Glades interchange and I-395?
    I thought that was bullshit from day 1. Charging for the express lane should not be allowed. I stopped using it.

    I so seldom use that stretch the cost doesn't bother me, but tough for the daily commuter. Probably will take it when we go to SB for the Home Show at the Convention Center over Labor Day Weekend, though honestly I don't like some of those elevated sections, very claustrophobic to me.

    And I'm going to Miami Intl tomorrow (Sat), not sure if I'll take the Turnpike, depends what I hear about I-95. Which is why I was double-checking my SunPass today to make sure I had enough in the account, and switching the Easy Pay to my newest bank.
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    Aug 19, 2011 11:24 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    paulflexes said
    Art_Deco saidMy major concern is that it might lead to a proliferation of toll roads we didn't have before, ...
    You mean like the "express lane" between the Golden Glades interchange and I-395?
    I thought that was bullshit from day 1. Charging for the express lane should not be allowed. I stopped using it.

    I use it so seldom use that stretch the cost doesn't bother me, but tough for the daily commuter. Probably will use it when we go to SB for the Home Show at the Convention Center over Labor Day Weekend, though honestly I don't like some of those elevated sections, very claustrophobic to me.

    And I'm going to Miami Intl tomorrow (Sat), not sure if I'll take the Turnpike, depends what I hear about I-95. Which is why I was double-checking my SunPass today to make sure I had enough in the account, and switching the Easy Pay to my newest bank.
    The cost doesn't bother me about it. It's the principle of the matter. I just don't think it's right for them to charge for two lanes on an otherwise free interstate.

    But I must admit, if I had to travel that direction during the daytime, I'd probably use it. The only time I ever use I-95 S is going to Sobe at midnight when the traffic is no issue.
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    Aug 19, 2011 11:44 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidThe cost doesn't bother me about it. It's the principle of the matter. I just don't think it's right for them to charge for two lanes on an otherwise free interstate.

    I always wondered when I first came across tolls on Federal Interstates, thought they were supposed to be free. That's how the law establishing the Interstate highway system was originally written in the 1950s.

    But it's been modified and changed over the years, and Congress had early-on allowed "grandfathering" of existing toll roads into the Federal system as a way of saving construction funds and speeding completion of the network. Currently there are so many exceptions and changes that it's basically chaos, compared to the original grand scheme for a free & open national highway network.
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    Aug 19, 2011 11:52 PM GMT
    I live in a state without Toll Roads.
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    Aug 19, 2011 11:58 PM GMT
    intentsman saidI live in a state without Toll Roads.

    For how long? I see online a number of proposals to introduce tolls, especially on I-80.
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    Aug 20, 2011 12:25 AM GMT
    Here's my "pass"...

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQAY3TmYavbYS6_nIpY7KJ

    It gets me on the bus, the Muni, the BART, CalTrain, Golden Gate Transit Bus, and most of the Ferries. Pretty much wherever I want or need to go. Commuting is a breeze!

    (I still have an old SunPass transponder which I keep as a memento.)
  • LJay

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    Aug 20, 2011 12:44 AM GMT
    The best thing since sliced bread.

    Not having to roll down the window in a snow storm makes it all worth it!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 20, 2011 12:46 AM GMT
    EZ-Pass in NY/NJ

    Not really going to help when the port authority raises the toll on the tunnels to $15 soon... cunts
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:07 AM GMT
    Don't know what made me suddenly think of this: automated speeding tickets as a result of this. Your arrival time at each toll point is already being recorded. Mine appears in my online account, a date-time stamping that helps to confirm legitimate usage of my SunPass for me.

    But it would be simple for a computer to compare the clock times between tolls, against the known distance, to calculate average speed. Could a speeding ticket then be issued if that average driving time exceeded the speed limit?

    A precedent for that actually existed in the 1970s, enforced by the US Army in Germany, though using a manual system. When we military drove our private cars through Communist East Germany going to and from West Berlin, our arrival and departure times at Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo, at either end of the autobahn, were recorded by the MPs on our travel papers.

    If we arrived too quickly we got a report of speeding sent to our commander, based on the calculated average mph (the distance was always 103 miles). BTW, we also got in trouble if we drove too slowly, since an average speed below a certain level suggested we had made an unauthorized stop along the way to chat with the Commies, or engage in other nefarious activities.

    Seems to me this wireless toll system would lend itself to such computerized speed ticketing. Perhaps the next development?
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:14 AM GMT
    Here in Melbourne we have Citylink which work via a windscreen transponder unit as well with an account that you can direct debit to your credit card. Very simple and you never have to slow down.
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:23 AM GMT
    Pacha saidHere in Melbourne we have Citylink which work via a windscreen transponder unit as well with an account that you can direct debit to your credit card. Very simple and you never have to slow down.

    Exactly how Florida's SunPass operates. Plus with a provision to photograph license plates of cars without a transponder signal.

    Incidentally, our transponders are batteryless & passive, reflecting back the energy beamed down to them from an overhead structure you drive under. Our earlier versions (the older one I now use as a guest spare) were battery powered and could die on you. The current MiniPass is no thicker nor larger than a plastic credit card, and permanently adheres to the inside glass.
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:23 AM GMT
    When the NY EZPass went into operation on the thruway about 10 years ago or so, there were a few folks that were ticketed based on the average speed between gates.

    The tech is there, but not used for that purpose at present; iirc, there was a bit of an uproar over the speed ticketing - and more so from the State Troopers (NYSP) who would have faced cutbacks as patrols were reduced and the threat of attritioning NYSP positions as an indirect result.

    As a bridge and tunneler into NYC, I'm not looking forward to the $15 toll. If they did the hikes $1-$2 which they have done every few years anyway it is not so noticeable.

    And I can't imagine that commercial traffic is going to like it when they have units that deal with multiple bridge crossings everyday.

    For us Bridge and Tunnelers, it is effectively the return of the commuter tax - unless you use only public transit. For those of us in the outer 'burbs where the mass transit is less dense, it's like getting fucked w/o even the cheap lube. icon_sad.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:24 AM GMT
    EZ pass/fast pass has been around for decades. had it growing up in california, and now I have one here in boston. nothing new.
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:27 AM GMT
    I have an I-Pass for going back and forth to Chicago. You still have to slow down and stop at the tolls but it's much faster.
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:34 AM GMT
    Atlanta uses this type of system on its only tool road [parking lot] to the northern suburbs. Like many other places, the toll road was sold to the public as losing the tolls after the road paid for itself. It's still in force years after recouping the money. Toll roads suck.
  • Timbales

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    Aug 20, 2011 1:36 AM GMT
    I'm in NY, I have EZ Pass.
  • turtleneckjoc...

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    Aug 20, 2011 1:39 AM GMT
    In the past couple of years, they took out the toll booths on our MANY toll roads around the Orlando area (SR 528, SR 417, SR 408, SR 429, SR 414 and the Osceola Parkway---whew!) to replace those with auxillary lanes to where you had to pay a toll if you don't have SunPass or to zip right through if you do. The sensors to debit your SunPass account were placed underneath the roadway.

    It works and you can move right through and with limited traffic build up.

    And at the Turnpike exits, you get a price break if you have SunPass.

    It's a sin we have so many toll roads around the Orlando area and I think it hurts us locals more than it does the out-of-towners.
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:40 AM GMT
    alphatrigger saidWhen the NY EZPass went into operation on the thruway about 10 years ago or so, there were a few folks that were ticketed based on the average speed between gates.

    Now that I think more about it, that used to be an urban legend about the New Jersey Turnpike toll road (one of those that was later incorporated into I-95 but remained a toll). And this was because of how the Turnpike operated.

    You got a time-stamped card when you entered it, and then over most of the distance you didn't stop again until you exited. Then you surrendered your card at an exit booth and your toll was calculated. That allowed a comparison of your beginning and ending times over a known distance.

    I never knew anyone who actually got a speeding ticket that way, but that was the rumor I always heard when I was a NJ resident.
  • turtleneckjoc...

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    Aug 20, 2011 1:47 AM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    alphatrigger saidWhen the NY EZPass went into operation on the thruway about 10 years ago or so, there were a few folks that were ticketed based on the average speed between gates.

    Now that I think more about it, that used to be an urban legend about the New Jersey Turnpike toll road (one of those that was later incorporated into I-95 but remained a toll). And this was because of how the Turnpike operated.

    You got a time-stamped card when you entered it, and then over most of the distance you didn't stop again until you exited. Then you surrendered your card at an exit booth and your toll was calculated. That allowed a comparison of your beginning and ending times over a known distance.

    I never knew anyone who actually got a speeding ticket that way, but that was the rumor I always heard when I was a NJ resident.


    That is just like the old system on the Florida Turnpike that went away some time back. You could get your ticket in Wildwood and pay toll in Miami (if you were headed that far).
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    Aug 20, 2011 1:55 AM GMT
    Here in North Texas, we have the NTTA (North Texas Tollway Authority).

    The NTTA rfid tag works at most airports, and tollways, in Texas.

    NTTA no longer has attended toll booths. If you don't have a tag, you get a bill in the mail.

    Unfortunately, the NTTA lacks any real enforcement authority for toll runners here in North Texas, so...some folks mooch.