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Author Topic: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?  (Read 4085 times)

froggie

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Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« on: May 21, 2013, 12:37:44 PM »

http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/22306060/2013/05/21/starting-next-year-only-e-z-passes-will-be-allowed-to-pay-tolls-on-tobin

My other half forwarded me parts of this Boston article (which I can't get to out here) in which they talk about plans to change the Tobin Bridge so that "only E-Z passes will be allowed to pay tolls".  The article mentions that Logan Airport could be next.

I can't get to the article so I'm not sure if the plan is to go all-electronic, or if the quote that, literally, you must have an EZPass in order to drive it, is true.
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roadman

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2013, 01:01:25 PM »

Old news - see http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=8875.msg211469#msg211469

And the plan is to go all electronic, not EZ-Pass only.  If you don't have a transponder, you get a bill in the mail.  But since when did the media let the facts get in the way of printing a story with an "anti-govimitt" angle.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 03:54:37 PM by roadman »
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bob7374

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2013, 04:26:02 PM »

Here's the official MassDOT blog post about the Tobin Bridge electronic tolling and future plans:
http://transportation.blog.state.ma.us/blog/2013/05/massdot-plan-revolutionize-toll-collection.html
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mtantillo

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2013, 07:39:34 PM »

To the best of my knowledge, there is not one single road in this country that is "transponder-only" that does not allow those without a transponder to get a bill in the mail, or have a free alternate right next to it (in the case of some HOT lanes/Express Toll Lanes that do in fact require transponders).  I doubt any government would want the bad publicity associated with being the first to do this. 

I like the idea of all-electronic tolling, provided there are accomodations made for visitors or others that might not readily be able to get a bill (rental car customers come to mind).  Otherwise, to all those who don't want the government snooping on you, guess what, pretty much all toll lanes are under video observation, including cash lanes...they already have your license plate number if they want to look it up. 
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Duke87

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2013, 07:59:10 PM »

To the best of my knowledge, there is not one single road in this country that is "transponder-only" that does not allow those without a transponder to get a bill in the mail, or have a free alternate right next to it

Florida's Turnipke has several interchanges which are SunPass only, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike has a few that are EZPass only. Both consider using one of those interchanges without a valid transponder to be a violation and will hit you with a fine accordingly.
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mtantillo

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2013, 10:13:49 PM »

To the best of my knowledge, there is not one single road in this country that is "transponder-only" that does not allow those without a transponder to get a bill in the mail, or have a free alternate right next to it

Florida's Turnipke has several interchanges which are SunPass only, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike has a few that are EZPass only. Both consider using one of those interchanges without a valid transponder to be a violation and will hit you with a fine accordingly.

My bad, should have clarified that not every access/egress point would necessarily be available, which applies to little sleepy interchanges serving office parks off the PA Turnpike, as well as the entire GWB lower level during off-peak hours. 
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froggie

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2013, 03:26:11 AM »

Quote
To the best of my knowledge, there is not one single road in this country that is "transponder-only" that does not allow those without a transponder to get a bill in the mail, or have a free alternate right next to it (in the case of some HOT lanes/Express Toll Lanes that do in fact require transponders).

I want to say the Westpark Tollway in Houston falls under this category.  I'm pretty sure it did at one point...not sure if it's still the case.
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NE2

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2013, 03:32:57 AM »

https://www.hctra.org/tollroads/
Quote
The Westpark Tollway, Katy Managed Lanes and the Northeast section of the Sam Houston Tollway are all-electronic tolling.  All-electronic tolling means there are no toll booths, and no cash payment is accepted.  An EZ TAG or other interoperable Texas toll payment tag is required.

The Katy lanes are express lanes. The Sam Houston Tollway is a tolled freeway with free frontage roads (Beltway 8). The Westpark parallels various minor surface roads; I'd say it definitely counts.

PHLBOS

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2013, 08:14:06 AM »

To the best of my knowledge, there is not one single road in this country that is "transponder-only" that does not allow those without a transponder to get a bill in the mail, or have a free alternate right next to it

Florida's Turnipke has several interchanges which are SunPass only, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike has a few that are EZPass only. Both consider using one of those interchanges without a valid transponder to be a violation and will hit you with a fine accordingly.
In the case of the PA Turnpike, those EZ Pass Only exits/interchanges (of which there's only two or three) were that way from the get-go; plus, there's an older, non-EZ Pass alternative interchange located within 10 miles of such.  The same can not be said regarding older toll interchanges or facilities like the Tobin Bridge.

Given the fact that all the river/harbor crossings (except MA 99) northeast of Boston are toll facilities (and have been such since their inception); converting even one of those facilities to an EZ Pass ONLY type would be a major transportation access issue (not to mention a P.R. nightmare and legally questionable).

My bad, should have clarified that not every access/egress point would necessarily be available, which applies to little sleepy interchanges serving office parks off the PA Turnpike
I wouldn't necessarily call the recently-opened PA 29 interchange (EZ Pass ONLY - Exit 320) a sleepy interchange.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 08:38:16 AM by PHLBOS »
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mtantillo

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2013, 12:58:31 PM »

https://www.hctra.org/tollroads/
Quote
The Westpark Tollway, Katy Managed Lanes and the Northeast section of the Sam Houston Tollway are all-electronic tolling.  All-electronic tolling means there are no toll booths, and no cash payment is accepted.  An EZ TAG or other interoperable Texas toll payment tag is required.

The Katy lanes are express lanes. The Sam Houston Tollway is a tolled freeway with free frontage roads (Beltway 8). The Westpark parallels various minor surface roads; I'd say it definitely counts.

Don't Texas toll roads offer some form of "Pay-by-Plate"?  I know I've talked to plenty of people involved in the toll industry who like to talk about "ZipCash" everytime we discuss how Pay-by-Plate works in the various states. 
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Duke87

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2013, 07:57:00 PM »

https://www.hctra.org/tollroads/
Quote
The Westpark Tollway, Katy Managed Lanes and the Northeast section of the Sam Houston Tollway are all-electronic tolling.  All-electronic tolling means there are no toll booths, and no cash payment is accepted.  An EZ TAG or other interoperable Texas toll payment tag is required.

The Katy lanes are express lanes. The Sam Houston Tollway is a tolled freeway with free frontage roads (Beltway 8). The Westpark parallels various minor surface roads; I'd say it definitely counts.

Don't Texas toll roads offer some form of "Pay-by-Plate"?  I know I've talked to plenty of people involved in the toll industry who like to talk about "ZipCash" everytime we discuss how Pay-by-Plate works in the various states.

The three toll roads mentioned have the same equipment on their toll gantries that will snap a photo of your license plate if you don't have a transponder. The difference is, what they send you in the mail is a citation for driving the road without a transponder, not a bill for the toll. This happened to a friend of mine who wasn't aware of this requirement.
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mtantillo

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2013, 09:12:57 PM »

Heh, interesting.  My apologies for misunderstanding.  After doing a little research, I realize that while TxTag is the statewide interoperable transponder, any pay-by-plate arrangements are made with each individual toll facility.  ZipCash is only for NTTA facilities.  Austin area toll roads have a different arrangement.  But Houston has nothing.  Shame on them. 

Although we actually got into this debate at a NCUTCD meeting a few years ago when someone asked "what the heck is the difference between a 'processing fee' and a 'fine' for using a toll road without a transponder?"  This was a very important discussion topic, since the signing for one vs. the other is very different (the former is signed like a toll road that accepts cash, since theoretically you need not warn anyone in advance that no cash option exists if they will receive a bill...while the later is signed as "XXX Toll Pass Only").  So long as the "fine" doesn't have any points attached (they couldn't, as they have no idea who was driving the vehicle), isn't it essentially a processing fee?  The other side said it was an issue of order of magnitude of the mark-up, but no one could really seem to draw the line at what constituted a fine vs. a processing fee.  For example, "the rules" say "thou shalt not drive on the I-495 Express Lanes without an E-ZPass."  If you do and Transurban has to track you down, you'll pay a $12 "fine" on top of the toll amount.  However if you go to Transurban within 5 days of your mis-deed, provide your credit card number, license plate number, and approximate date of your "violation", you'll only pay $1.50 on top of your toll. Is this a "fine" for misuse of the lanes?  Or is this just a convenience fee for those who might be in a rush once a year and don't have E-ZPass?  I would certainly argue the latter, and I in fact, have encouraged people to give the lanes a try before bothering to sign up for E-ZPass, and to only sign up if they think they'll use the Express Lanes regularly.  E-ZPass in Virginia and Maryland have monthly fees, which could easily come out to be more than a measly $1.50 "fine" for using the lanes without one. 

Then lets look at Quebec on the A-25.  Assuming they can find you (those with US plates have supposidly been able to use the A-25 for free), they tack on a $5.00 "processing fee" onto the toll.  I mean, lets think about this.  Montreal is not exceptionally wealthy compared to DC...yet Quebec considers $5.00 to be a "processing fee" while Virginia considers $1.50 to be a "fine".  Something doesn't add up.  Don't even get me started about using an all-electronic toll facility in a rental car....some of their "processing fees" will make any "fine" levied by a toll agency for using the road without a transponder in your own car look like peanuts. 

To bring this back on topic...the rental car issue could be a challenge for Tobin Bridge and the Harbor Tunnels being so close to Logan Airport.  How will the rental car agencies ensure that every car leaving their lot is equipped with a toll transponder?  Keep in mind that the rental car toll programs (PlatePass, Rent-A-Toll, etc.) work in most states by way of photo capture of license plates, but they WILL NOT WORK in E-ZPass territory without a physical transponder box in the vehicle.  All of the brochures explicitely state this.  So the guy who drives his rental car from San Francisco  to Boston, will that car have an E-ZPass transponder in it? (it is still un-clear if rental agencies equip all of their cars with E-ZPass transponders, even the ones from, say, the West Coast).  If not, how will the next renter who gets stuck with that car get it back into Boston if there is no way to pay cash, and no way to participate in the rental car toll program without a transponder?  And people wonder why I carry my own toll transponder with me when I fly somewhere far away...I'm sure the pilot would have a fit if he/she knew, seeing as it is a "portable electronic device" that can't be turned off!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 09:15:02 PM by mtantillo »
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deathtopumpkins

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2013, 10:47:26 PM »

Presumably if the rental car does not have an E-ZPass in it, the toll equipment would photograph its license plate and mail the vehicle's registered owner (in this case the rental car company) a bill, just like if you drove your car without a transponder. Then the rental car company would track you down to pay it, along with their "fee".

mtantillo

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2013, 11:04:44 PM »

Presumably if the rental car does not have an E-ZPass in it, the toll equipment would photograph its license plate and mail the vehicle's registered owner (in this case the rental car company) a bill, just like if you drove your car without a transponder. Then the rental car company would track you down to pay it, along with their "fee".

Yes.  The toll agency gets their money no matter what.  The problem is, if this happens, will the rental car company bill it to me similar to a parking ticket or red light camera ticket (or a toll violation if the driver opts out of the rental car toll program and drives through an electronic lane anyway), with a $25+ processing fee?  Or will it make its way back to the "rent-a-toll" company and I'm only charged the more reasonable processing fee that the rental company's toll program contractor charges ($4 a day...in that range?)  The problem is that the "rent-a-toll" companies are used to getting bills and violation notices in the mail for states that use video as the primary tolling method for rental car tolls, even where video tolling is not available to the general public (Florida, Texas, Washington State, Colorado), but in E-ZPass states, the tolls are billed via transponder statements using a live transponder....meaning on roads like the ICC or soon to be Tobin Bridge, video tolling is available to the general public but not to "rent-a-toll" customers because rent-a-toll in E-ZPass lanes ONLY works if there is a transponder in the vehicle.  Getting a video toll invoice from an E-ZPass state toll agency is the exception, not the normal pre-arranged deal they have with toll agencies in states such as Florida.  This makes me think it might be billed similar to a parking violation (High processing fee) rather than a "rent-a-toll" transaction (more reasonable fee). 

https://www.platepass.com/TollAuthorities/AboutPlatePass.html  There's a link to one such "rent-a-toll" company: PlatePass. 

Colorado, Florida , North Carolina, the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, Texas, Washington and Puerto Rico
...All vehicles with participating rental car agencies are pre-enrolled and no advanced commitment or contract is required to use PlatePass.  (MT comment: because the rental car companies simply turn over the license plate number of every vehicle in their fleet to the toll agencies...even if the vehicle is registered in California, FL Turnpike Enterprise has access to that data and knows to bill a toll to the correct rental car company toll contractor).

Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States
Participating rental car company customers can also use PlatePass while using the E-ZPass toll roads in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern region of the United States. Customers can ask for PlatePass transponders at rental locations in the Northeast, which will allow them to use the E-ZPass electronic toll payment system. (MT comment: because it actually costs money to outfit a car with a transponder [approx $20 per E-ZPass transponder], it doesn't make sense to outfit cars based outside of E-ZPass territory with E-ZPass transponders...but the rules clearly state you have to have the transponder to take part in the e-tolling scheme in those states)
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 11:10:10 PM by mtantillo »
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NE2

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2013, 12:03:20 AM »

I'd say the difference between a fine and a processing fee is that, if it's a fine and you repeatedly incur it, the toll road will escalate the matter and perhaps ban you from the property.

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2013, 12:06:58 AM »

Anyway, this bridge requires a transponder, requiring a 40+ mile detour to avoid it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabash_Memorial_Bridge

PHLBOS

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2013, 08:13:59 AM »

Anyway, this bridge requires a transponder, requiring a 40+ mile detour to avoid it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabash_Memorial_Bridge
That's crazy, IMHO; especially since there's no nearby alternate route (I'm surprised there wasn't a legal challenge of sorts). 

What if the motorist is either a tourist or using a rental (not from a nearby agency)?
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2013, 10:43:41 AM »

Presumably if the rental car does not have an E-ZPass in it, the toll equipment would photograph its license plate and mail the vehicle's registered owner (in this case the rental car company) a bill, just like if you drove your car without a transponder. Then the rental car company would track you down to pay it, along with their "fee".

Yes.  The toll agency gets their money no matter what.  The problem is, if this happens, will the rental car company bill it to me similar to a parking ticket or red light camera ticket (or a toll violation if the driver opts out of the rental car toll program and drives through an electronic lane anyway), with a $25+ processing fee?  Or will it make its way back to the "rent-a-toll" company and I'm only charged the more reasonable processing fee that the rental company's toll program contractor charges ($4 a day...in that range?)...

In general, the rental car company will just charge your credit card automatically for the whole bill.  Since you did not agree to the rental company's toll program, they're not going to retroactivally "allow you" to participate in the program, which means the rental car company would get sacked with the $25 charge. 

When motorists agree to rent a car, they agree to the above.  If the credit card is no longer valid (card # was closed, at max limit, etc), only then is a bill sent to the renter. 
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Henry

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2013, 12:27:11 PM »

Another toll facility falls victim to the EZ-Pass phenomenon...
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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2013, 07:47:19 PM »

Anyway, this bridge requires a transponder, requiring a 40+ mile detour to avoid it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabash_Memorial_Bridge
That's crazy, IMHO; especially since there's no nearby alternate route (I'm surprised there wasn't a legal challenge of sorts). 

What if the motorist is either a tourist or using a rental (not from a nearby agency)?

Then they presumably get hit with a fine just as anyone else would. That, or if you have the forethought you set up an account for their transponder.

What I don't get is why they went through the bother of creating their own transponder system when other facilities in Indiana and Illinois both are already part of EZPass. That's just ridiculously feudal and customer-unfriendly of them. 

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2013, 03:55:18 AM »

Quote
Another toll facility falls victim to the EZ-Pass phenomenon...

Not true.  IIRC, the Tobin Bridge already had EZPass.  If you want to call this a phenomenon, call it the "all-electronic tolling phtenomenon".
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roadman

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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2013, 05:28:50 PM »

Quote
Another toll facility falls victim to the EZ-Pass phenomenon...

Not true.  IIRC, the Tobin Bridge already had EZPass.  If you want to call this a phenomenon, call it the "all-electronic tolling phtenomenon".

Actually, the Tobin Bridge had been "(obnoxious commercial sponsorship)Fast Lane" until it, along with the rest of Massachusetts' toll facilities, were officially re-branded EZ-Pass.  However, Fast Lane was compatible with EZ-Pass.
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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2013, 05:44:07 PM »

FastLane, Like iPass, was just E-ZPass with a different brand.

What I don't get is why they went through the bother of creating their own transponder system when other facilities in Indiana and Illinois both are already part of EZPass. That's just ridiculously feudal and customer-unfriendly of them. 
How were they even allowed to do that?
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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2013, 06:10:10 PM »

What I don't get is why they went through the bother of creating their own transponder system when other facilities in Indiana and Illinois both are already part of EZPass. That's just ridiculously feudal and customer-unfriendly of them. 
How were they even allowed to do that?

Well, INDOT has never signed onto EZPass. The Indiana Toll Road has, but it's privately owned and operated, so it's a completely separate entity.

As for how they are allowed... well why wouldn't they be? I don't know of any state having mandated that agencies within its borders accept a given electronic tolling system. This bridge is not the only toll facility in "EZPass territory" that does not accept EZPass (cf. Dingman's Ferry, Atlantic Beach, and Ocean Drive), although I do believe it is unique in the respect that it has its own form of electronic payment - those other bridges are cash only.
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Re: Boston: Tobin Bridge to go EZPass only?
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2013, 01:40:30 AM »

Quote
The Indiana Toll Road has, but it's privately owned and operated, so it's a completely separate entity.

Privately operated, but still owned by the state.
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