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The cashless toll road trap: FL and others

The cashless toll road trap: FL and others

Old May 9, 15, 7:16 pm
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The GG Bridge offers a single-trip pre-pay option. My understanding is that, if you use the pre-pay, the rental car company (or its third party partner company) never is billed.

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Old May 12, 15, 6:05 am
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As in all travel, being informed is being smart. Do your research before leaving. Ask the rental agency about transponders, tolls, before leaving the rental agency lot. In Florida, the state's goal is to make all of the expressways "toll by plate." Best to buy a transponder at the first Publix you see. I was the victim of a similar $150.00 fine for making a wrong turn (the sign was covered with snow and unreadable), and entering a cashless expressway near the Denver Airport in a snowstorm. I learned my lesson.
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Old May 12, 15, 7:13 am
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Originally Posted by Yellowjj View Post
it makes me wonder why cities with high visitors/tourists who rent cars would even implement this. Almost feel like their getting a cut out of the additional fee's being charged
Two possible explanations, both of which are annoying:
  • Nobody in the decision process gave a damn about tourists
  • As with car rental taxes, hotel taxes etc., they chose to view tourists without these tags as a voteless profit center
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Old May 12, 15, 7:17 am
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Originally Posted by VT_hawkeye View Post
...Nobody in the decision process gave a damn about tourists....
Just can't be true in Florida. Everybody cares about tourists.

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Old May 12, 15, 8:01 am
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Toll Gauging in FL Who is [email protected]

I paid all the tolls in cash on a weekly rental Budget FL Rental . Vehicle was billed tolls by the a vendor in the state of NY for tolls crossing a bridge near Fort Lauderdale on a date when the car was in Tampa. Called FL number on my AMEX statement to dispute. I consider this fraud! Who is responsible? No-one fessed up . Nearly all involved had all my rental vehicle and personal information DL and CC. I was concerned about Identity Theft. AMEX removed the charge. Evidently it wasn't their first dispute of this ruse.
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Old May 12, 15, 9:01 am
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Originally Posted by bdschobel View Post
Try avoiding the Golden Gate Bridge!

Just think about how many people fly to CA to visit wine country and use rental cars which have to be returned to SFO!
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Old May 12, 15, 9:19 am
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As noted above the GG bridge does have options for visitors as long as you know in advance. I think I saw a post on FT about the time it went cashless and then checked on their web site. Of course you can't do anything until you have the car and know the registration.

Almost all toll systems east of the Mississippi take EZ-Pass/I-Pass so you can just carry a transponder. Again you have to register the license plate. I did have a booth in Boston fail to read my I-Pass but when the contractor for National billed me and I explained what had happened they waived the extra fees. IL allows you to fix missed tolls online but MA doesn't.
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Old May 12, 15, 9:46 am
Join Date: Feb 2010
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It gets worse - Hertz EZ Pass

I found a new gotcha recently. Hertz has a toll transponder in their vehicles in a little drawer attached to the windshield. Pull out the drawer, go through a toll, and all automatic....except...

Once you use it at the first toll, Hertz is charging a DAILY fee for the convenience. So if, and in my case, you use it on your first day for a $3.50 toll leaving Boston Logan, and have the car for a week - your $3.50 toll ends up costing something like $25 - because Hertz charge the fee every day, used or not, plus the actual tolls.

When I complained to Hertz they first claimed this was an external 3rd party fee and there was nothing they could do. When I posted my displeasure on Twitter....they contacted me immediately and credited the fee as a "one time accommodation". Never used the transponder again.
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Old May 12, 15, 10:08 am
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According to the Hertz site they offer PlatePass to use on the FasTrak system for the Greater San Francisco Bay Area Bridges.

You will be charged a $4.95 service fee for each day of the rental including any days on which PlatePass® is not used, up to a maximum of $24.75 per rental, plus incurred tolls at the Toll Authority's cash toll rate or highest undiscounted toll rate.

What a ripoff!

PS, PlatePass is owned by American Traffic Solutions who is responsible for most of the red light and speed cameras in the country.
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Old May 12, 15, 10:12 am
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Florida rental cars and tolls

The toll "surprise" hit me on a trip to Ft. Lauderdale/Miami in April. The freeway is often terrible so the toll lanes are the only sane choice and there is no way to pay in cash. I rented a car for 5 days. I used the toll road once on the way to Miami. The posted toll was $2.75. The Budget car had a transponder so no problem.

Bill from Budget: $19.00
Once I used the transponder one time for a toll it triggered a $3.25/day fee so the toll charged was $2.50 but I then paid $3.25 x 5 days.
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Old May 12, 15, 10:55 am
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I disagree. Why is this Florida's fault? They have moved their toll roads to a cashless system, which has already proved its benefits all over the world, I would do the same. The world has evolved and people (including tourists) should too.

This sound more like private companies (car rental) charging whatever they want for the "convenience", and they can get away with it because there are other options, they are not forcing anyone. Informed tourists can purchase a transponder in advance. They can purchase it as soon as they leave the airport. They can avoid toll roads. Or they can CHOOSE to pay (Unreasonably high fees) for the "convenience" of not doing any of the above.

If tourists (and locals renting a car) end up paying because they did not know, it's not anyone's fault but theirs, much like any other tourist making wrong decisions in unknown places because they did not do their homework.

Last edited by gabrielbf; May 12, 15 at 12:46 pm
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Old May 12, 15, 11:14 am
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American Traffic Solutions and the car rental companies are cleaning up with these exorbitant charges. They have some nerve charging you for the days when you aren't even using the passes. There should be an initial one time (reasonable) charge for using the passes plus whatever the tolls amount to.
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Old May 12, 15, 12:03 pm
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Australia seems to have figured it out- i rented a car from Avis in Brisbane and asked at the counter when I rented it. They told me that Avis will automatically pass back the tolls, no additional fee since they already have the transponder on the car. Only paid about A$12 over three days (a couple of bridge crossings).
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Old May 12, 15, 1:12 pm
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I have to agree that it would be nice if the various transponder systems would work with each other. When I moved from Chicago to Seattle I kept my I-Pass transponder (which, of course, promptly needed to be replaced by a newer model -- talk about inconvenience!), but when they introduced the transponders around here they were incompletely incompatible with any other system. When I commented negatively about that, the response was, in effect, "too bad, so sad."

Notes for anyone visiting the Seattle area:

The 520 bridge across Lake Washington is completely automated. If you don't have a transponder then they use the license plate cameras, which result in a higher toll.

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, between Tacoma and Gig Harbor, is toll-free northbound and has ever-increasing tolls southbound. Cash is still accepted. Transponders have the lowest toll, cash is a little higher, license plate cameras are a little higher than that.

Some of the freeways around here have HOV lanes that are available as toll lanes, as well. If you have a transponder and qualify for HOV status (usually just 2 people here), BE SURE you cover up the transponder or you will be billed for your free trip.
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Old May 12, 15, 1:28 pm
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Originally Posted by RSSrsvp View Post
There should be an initial one time (reasonable) charge for using the passes plus whatever the tolls amount to.
Silvercar doesn't even charge the one-time fee - they just charge you for the tolls incurred. Unfortunately, they're only in 8 cities so far.

I don't know about Florida's cashless tolls, but the Golden Gate Bridge can be prepaid online (you just enter your plate number) so you can avoid being screwed by the rental car company. The other bridges in the Bay Area all take cash, but at certain times having an electronic toll tag saves you a good half hour.
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