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Author Topic: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure  (Read 15036 times)

1995hoo

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Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« on: July 09, 2012, 05:21:25 PM »

The Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock reports that Virginia will start charging E-ZPass account fees, but it's going to phase in gradually and contain an exemption for E-ZPass Flex users who use their devices solely in carpool mode. Existing accountholders won't pay until they get new transponders or add transponders, at which time it will cost 50¢ per month per device.

The E-ZPass Flex exemption is a little more complicated, but distilled to its bare essence, the rule is that if you use your "Flex" solely in carpool mode and solely on the HO/T lanes, you pay no fee.
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roadman

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2012, 07:37:23 PM »

The Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock reports that Virginia will start charging E-ZPass account fees, but it's going to phase in gradually and contain an exemption for E-ZPass Flex users who use their devices solely in carpool mode. Existing accountholders won't pay until they get new transponders or add transponders, at which time it will cost 50¢ per month per device.

The E-ZPass Flex exemption is a little more complicated, but distilled to its bare essence, the rule is that if you use your "Flex" solely in carpool mode and solely on the HO/T lanes, you pay no fee.

Like avoiding a fee of 50 cents per month is a real incentive for people to carpool, or having to pay the fee will discourage people form carpooling.  Setting up separate fee structures for essentially the same service NEVER works out in the long run.
Classic example of totally irrational decisions by politicians.
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Duke87

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2012, 07:44:43 PM »

The whole monthly account fee is misguided since it discourages infrequent toll road users from getting an account. It's one thing to pay 50 cents a month when you save 10 dollars a month in discounts. It's another thing to pay 50 cents a month when you go through a toll three times a year.

If you need extra funds, just raise the tolls...
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deathtopumpkins

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2012, 08:09:26 PM »

Does this now leave Massachusetts as the only state with a completely free E-ZPass?

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2012, 08:18:39 PM »

Does this now leave Massachusetts as the only state with a completely free E-ZPass?

Delaware (DelDOT not the DRBA) still does not levy a monthly fee. Though there were talks last summer of adding one due to budget shortfalls, nothing more has been said.

Going opposite, they reduced the $25 charge for new transponders to $15 just a few weeks ago...

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2012, 08:27:47 PM »

Like avoiding a fee of 50 cents per month is a real incentive for people to carpool, or having to pay the fee will discourage people form carpooling.  Setting up separate fee structures for essentially the same service NEVER works out in the long run.
Classic example of totally irrational decisions by politicians.

The separate fee structure for E-ZPass carpoolers is chump change, compared to the bigger difference between the tolls they'll have to pay in the express lanes (zero) and what non-carpoolers will pay.  I view that decision as a mostly-symbolic nod to the carpool crowd.

50 cents a month (once the battery runs out on my existing transponder, which I've had for three years) gives me some heartburn as an infrequent E-ZPass user, but won't yet move me to switch to a remaining fee-free jurisdiction.
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1995hoo

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2012, 10:08:43 PM »

Does this now leave Massachusetts as the only state with a completely free E-ZPass?

I think Maine is free as well, although they don't have it set up to let you apply online (you have to print out the form and mail it in).
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

MASTERNC

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2012, 10:20:07 PM »

Does this now leave Massachusetts as the only state with a completely free E-ZPass?

Besides Delaware, New York's E-ZPass is free if you initially register with a New York address (you can then change the address out of state and be grandfathered in).  Unless they repeal it, the free E-ZPass is written into law.
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1995hoo

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2012, 10:31:55 PM »

Just looked at Maine's site. It's not totally free—they charge a one-time $10 fee for the transponder. No monthly fee, though. They also invite out-of-staters to enroll (compare to Virginia, which tells out-of-staters they're not welcome).

I don't think any E-ZPass member has a deal comparable to Florida's SunPass Mini where you pay $5 for the device but get $5 of toll credit in return. I expect the E-ZPass transponder costs more than the SunPass Mini, though, so I suppose it's not unreasonable. 
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

MASTERNC

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2012, 11:20:40 PM »

I should also point out that the fee as approved for standard transponders is one of the lowest around (other than free, of course) and matches Pennsylvania and Ohio's fees.  It is also half the cost of New Jersey's and $1 per month less than its neighbor, Maryland.

Except for the waived fee if MD tolls are used at least 3 times in a month, I don't know who would go with an E-ZPass Flex from MD over one in VA.
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deathtopumpkins

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2012, 07:32:31 AM »

Does this now leave Massachusetts as the only state with a completely free E-ZPass?

Delaware (DelDOT not the DRBA) still does not levy a monthly fee. Though there were talks last summer of adding one due to budget shortfalls, nothing more has been said.

Going opposite, they reduced the $25 charge for new transponders to $15 just a few weeks ago...

I meant completely free - no monthly fee, no initial fee or deposit.

Besides Delaware, New York's E-ZPass is free if you initially register with a New York address (you can then change the address out of state and be grandfathered in).  Unless they repeal it, the free E-ZPass is written into law.

Yeah, reading up on NY it appears if you go with an MTA or NYSTA E-ZPass  (but NOT PANYNJ) there is no monthly or initial fee (so long as you use autoreplenish and don't need paper statements).

So basically this leaves Mass and some NY accounts.

1995hoo

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2012, 09:08:42 AM »

....

Yeah, reading up on NY it appears if you go with an MTA or NYSTA E-ZPass  (but NOT PANYNJ) there is no monthly or initial fee (so long as you use autoreplenish and don't need paper statements).

So basically this leaves Mass and some NY accounts.

I seem to recall some discussion somewhere on this forum where a number of people reported difficulty in getting a non–Port Authority E-ZPass from New York as an out-of-stater. I don't recall the details, but I'll try to search to see if I can exhume the other discussion. I seem to recall someone saying that they tried to enroll online with the Thruway Authority and the request was transferred to the Port Authority.

In the scheme of E-ZPass fees, New Jersey's fee in many ways "feels" the least objectionable to me because when you drive on their roads you can see them making improvements to the toll plazas and the like, such as reconstructing them with full-speed ORT lanes. It's a lot easier to stomach a fee when you see things like that, you know?



Edited to add: Here is the prior thread I was remembering: http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=5355.msg117176#msg117176
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

mgk920

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2012, 11:21:02 AM »

Does this now leave Massachusetts as the only state with a completely free E-ZPass?

Illinois has no service fee.

Mike
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1995hoo

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2012, 11:43:24 AM »

OTOH, Illinois does require a $10 refundable deposit plus $40 in pre-paid tolls. The latter number is higher than many other E-ZPass consortium members' requirements.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

deathtopumpkins

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2012, 12:06:08 PM »

Does this now leave Massachusetts as the only state with a completely free E-ZPass?

Illinois has no service fee.

Mike

Yes but as I keep saying, by completely free I mean neither a monthly fee NOR an initial fee. I guess you could technically include Illinois with the free ones though, because, as 1995hoo said, while there is an initial $10 fee it is refundable.

NJRoadfan

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2012, 04:50:53 PM »

Delaware (DelDOT not the DRBA) still does not levy a monthly fee. Though there were talks last summer of adding one due to budget shortfalls, nothing more has been said.

DRBA has a monthly fee, we used to have our E-ZPass through that customer service center until they started charging fees. They have since merged operations with the NJ customer service center which also has the fee.
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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2012, 10:25:24 PM »

....

Yeah, reading up on NY it appears if you go with an MTA or NYSTA E-ZPass  (but NOT PANYNJ) there is no monthly or initial fee (so long as you use autoreplenish and don't need paper statements).

So basically this leaves Mass and some NY accounts.

I seem to recall some discussion somewhere on this forum where a number of people reported difficulty in getting a non–Port Authority E-ZPass from New York as an out-of-stater. I don't recall the details, but I'll try to search to see if I can exhume the other discussion. I seem to recall someone saying that they tried to enroll online with the Thruway Authority and the request was transferred to the Port Authority.

In the scheme of E-ZPass fees, New Jersey's fee in many ways "feels" the least objectionable to me because when you drive on their roads you can see them making improvements to the toll plazas and the like, such as reconstructing them with full-speed ORT lanes. It's a lot easier to stomach a fee when you see things like that, you know?



Edited to add: Here is the prior thread I was remembering: http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=5355.msg117176#msg117176

Yes that was the thread I started.  I bought the NY tag and registered it to my grandfather's Buffalo address for a few days, and then changed it to my PA address.  I have never been charged a monthly fee.
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mtantillo

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2012, 11:58:51 AM »

....

Yeah, reading up on NY it appears if you go with an MTA or NYSTA E-ZPass  (but NOT PANYNJ) there is no monthly or initial fee (so long as you use autoreplenish and don't need paper statements).

So basically this leaves Mass and some NY accounts.

I seem to recall some discussion somewhere on this forum where a number of people reported difficulty in getting a non–Port Authority E-ZPass from New York as an out-of-stater. I don't recall the details, but I'll try to search to see if I can exhume the other discussion. I seem to recall someone saying that they tried to enroll online with the Thruway Authority and the request was transferred to the Port Authority.

In the scheme of E-ZPass fees, New Jersey's fee in many ways "feels" the least objectionable to me because when you drive on their roads you can see them making improvements to the toll plazas and the like, such as reconstructing them with full-speed ORT lanes. It's a lot easier to stomach a fee when you see things like that, you know?



Edited to add: Here is the prior thread I was remembering: http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=5355.msg117176#msg117176

Yes that was the thread I started.  I bought the NY tag and registered it to my grandfather's Buffalo address for a few days, and then changed it to my PA address.  I have never been charged a monthly fee.

I think you can also buy an E-ZPass to go pack. Since you purchase the tag and they hand it to you on the spot, presumably it would be that agency's tag...meaning if you purchase an E-ZPass in a cash lane at an MTA bridge/Tunnel in NYC, you should get an MTA branded tag.  Then you can register it wherever you darn well please and not pay the fee. 

They also sell Thruway tags at the service areas. 
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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2012, 01:14:51 PM »

Might depend on where you get E-ZPass to go.  I think I heard something that a tag can be transferred on account registration, and at least with the tag I got at Wegmans, the tags don't come pre-registered.
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MASTERNC

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2012, 09:45:28 PM »

Might depend on where you get E-ZPass to go.  I think I heard something that a tag can be transferred on account registration, and at least with the tag I got at Wegmans, the tags don't come pre-registered.

I bought from a Wegmans in Buffalo.  It had a NYS Thruway logo on it but I didn't want to take any chances, hence the initial registration to a NY address.  The terms sheet inside also listed the PANJNY fee on it.
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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2012, 11:04:50 AM »

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1995hoo

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2012, 11:19:38 AM »

TOLLROADSnews: 2% of VA/E-ZPass accounts unused for 12 months

I used to have a Virginia-issued Smart Tag and a New Jersey–issued E-ZPass back in the days before Virginia joined the E-ZPass consortium. Once the devices became interchangeable I kept both of them for awhile and loaned the Smart Tag to my then-girlfriend (now my wife). But she didn't drive very often and so it was the New Jersey device that saw all the activity. After a year of inactivity Virginia sent me a letter saying my account would be cancelled unless I called them to say I wanted to keep it active, which of course I did. They said the customer agreement says you agree to use the device at least once every six months or they reserve the right to cancel the account. I haven't bothered to look at the agreement to see if that's accurate because that was maybe a year or two after New Jersey started charging the $1 a month fee, so I got a second Virginia-issued device and (once that device arrived) cancelled the New Jersey account. Since both devices are on the Virginia account it's pretty much guaranteed that I'll at least use the Dulles Toll Road at some point on the way to a golf course.

The E-ZPass's battery still wears out regardless of whether the device is used, and when it dies they replace the entire transponder, so I suppose there's some level of cost involved even with dormant accounts. I wonder if there's some way they could roll out a no-battery device that would act as a permanent transponder not needing replacement. It might involve more up-front cost to develop the device, but it might save them money in the long run by eliminating the need to replace the transponders. I don't necessarily mean a device like the SunPass Mini, either, because of the way Florida misleads people into thinking that device must be permanently fastened to the windshield (meaning it's destroyed if you scrape it off when you replace your windshield or get a new car). Based on advice from people on this forum I used scotch tape to attach my SunPass Mini and it works fine, but I'd wager most people simply follow the instructions that came with the device. If the goal is truly to make the transponder cheaper, then a design that does not ask the user to fasten it permanently (even if it's not strictly necessary to do so) seems like a better idea.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

roadman

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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2012, 03:29:04 PM »

TOLLROADSnews: 2% of VA/E-ZPass accounts unused for 12 months

I used to have a Virginia-issued Smart Tag and a New Jersey–issued E-ZPass back in the days before Virginia joined the E-ZPass consortium. Once the devices became interchangeable I kept both of them for awhile and loaned the Smart Tag to my then-girlfriend (now my wife). But she didn't drive very often and so it was the New Jersey device that saw all the activity. After a year of inactivity Virginia sent me a letter saying my account would be cancelled unless I called them to say I wanted to keep it active, which of course I did. They said the customer agreement says you agree to use the device at least once every six months or they reserve the right to cancel the account. I haven't bothered to look at the agreement to see if that's accurate because that was maybe a year or two after New Jersey started charging the $1 a month fee, so I got a second Virginia-issued device and (once that device arrived) cancelled the New Jersey account. Since both devices are on the Virginia account it's pretty much guaranteed that I'll at least use the Dulles Toll Road at some point on the way to a golf course.

The E-ZPass's battery still wears out regardless of whether the device is used, and when it dies they replace the entire transponder, so I suppose there's some level of cost involved even with dormant accounts. I wonder if there's some way they could roll out a no-battery device that would act as a permanent transponder not needing replacement. It might involve more up-front cost to develop the device, but it might save them money in the long run by eliminating the need to replace the transponders. I don't necessarily mean a device like the SunPass Mini, either, because of the way Florida misleads people into thinking that device must be permanently fastened to the windshield (meaning it's destroyed if you scrape it off when you replace your windshield or get a new car). Based on advice from people on this forum I used scotch tape to attach my SunPass Mini and it works fine, but I'd wager most people simply follow the instructions that came with the device. If the goal is truly to make the transponder cheaper, then a design that does not ask the user to fasten it permanently (even if it's not strictly necessary to do so) seems like a better idea.

I agree about the permanent mountings - something like a clip-on to the sun visor would be much better.  As for the "return your dead transponder to us for a new one (so we can charge you the legislatively mandated minimum fee as well)" practice, I have a much simpler and better idea.  Re-design the transponder so the battery can be easily replaced when it goes flat (like most every other battery-powered device known to man).

The only costs I see here with people that are inactive are the time, labor, and postage VDOT spends to send letters to account holders that they consider "dormant".  If an individual only uses a transponder a few times a year (like going on vacation), that's still fewer cash transactions.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 03:32:42 PM by roadman »
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Re: Virginia announces E-ZPass fee structure
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2012, 09:02:48 PM »

I agree about the permanent mountings - something like a clip-on to the sun visor would be much better.

You can buy a little plastic case that attaches to the windshield with suction cups, into which the EZPass slides. That's what I have in my Saturn Vue, and it works fine -- even with the Velcro tape attached to it that I use to stick it in my old truck when or if I need to, or if my wife uses it in her vehicle.

I got mine on eBay.
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