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The cashless toll road trap: FL and others

The cashless toll road trap: FL and others

Old May 15, 15, 11:36 am
  #46  
 
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Just rented in TPA. Found out in advance that there were two, and only two, cashless tolls roadways - the Selmon and the Veterans, both of which were nowhere near where I wanted to be and easily avoided. Actually, the Selmon would have convenient but I just chose surface roads instead (using the "avoid tolls" mapping option).

I also crossed the Golden Gate Bridge each way last year in a rental car. After we got to the wine country, I called the toll-free number and prepaid that toll. However, when we did cross back southbound, there was a little hut after the toll booths that said "pay your toll here", so if you had neglected to do the prepay, you could have stopped and paid it on the spot.
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Old May 20, 15, 1:01 pm
  #47  
 
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Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
So what would people think about introducing the idea of government regulation to this discussion: For example, rental car agencies in states that have cashless toll facilities are required to include a transponder in each rental car, or in cases of license plate readers, to charge drivers only for the toll. Variation: A small "handling" fee is permitted, but capped at a reasonable amount and only for days that toll facilities are actually used.

Or...continue with the current free-for-all system wherein car rental companies can seemingly charge whatever they like? Pure capitalism, of course. If the market wants lower fees, the market will decide, right?
It's that little small "handling"charge. That is really what they are doing now. And that is the problem.

Automated tools are just a nice new scheme to allow states to outsource toll collection to private companies while getting rid of workers. When the cost for collections starts to grow everyone will start complaining about that. Having in person toll collectors is just part of the cost of having toll roads.

At some point there is going to be some contest to all of these. Either misread plates, or stolen cars, or misreads on transponders (and yes they do happen. Have happened to me) it is eventually going to have to change.

But for now, I think one of two things very much should happen. Either states are forced to offer up a cash pay system, or they are forced to find a better way of paying tolls. What about people traveling from out of state? Can they not use toll roads? How can the state get federal subsidies for roads that are not useable by everyone?
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Old May 20, 15, 3:23 pm
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by flyingtrainguy View Post
North Texas, under the aegis of the North Texas Toll Authority (NTTA), has gone totally cashless for its extensive network of toll roads and growing number of high occupancy-toll (HOT) lanes. The NTTA utilizes yet another technology which resembles a thin sticker (RFID-like device) called a TXTag. The TXTag is compatible with the technology used by the Oklahoma Turnpike and the DFW parking system. Its not compatible with EZ-Pass. The NTTA encourages users to get a TxTag by offering lower toll rates. If you don't have a TxTag you can also pay by mail - the NTTA doesn't assess a use fee, but does charge higher toll rates for using "Zip Cash." Effectively a use fee. Until recently there was a threshold that had to be met before a bill was sent, but after some controversy they have been sending bills for most outstanding amounts on a monthly basis.
I moved out of Texas but kept my tolltag (the older transponder that they gave out before the sticker) for my trips back to the state. The problem is the cashless tolls defaulted to reading the license plate, not the tolltag. Adding the rental car to my account during the periods I used the toll roads did not work because the billing there is sporadically delayed. If I waited till all my tolls posted, its almost guaranteed I'd get charged for someone who used the car after me. Often their toll posted before mine! I removed the rental car from my account after I saw other's tolls being charged and then I got dinged a fee by the rental company because one posted later.

And they can be very, very delayed. I got a bill over 6 months late. I had moved across the country and sold my old vehicle so I thought they had taken my old truck back to Texas. Turns out I went through to toll while I was still living in Dallas and they just never billed my account back then. Other tolls on the same days were billed, but for some reason they waited months to charge my account for others. The system is not smart enough to sync up the time and determine the account that the car was assigned to at that time.

Something similar happened in New Jersey years ago too when I tried linking an EZ-Pass to my rental car out there. It ignored the pass and just took a picture of the plate and sent it to the rental car agency. I got a giant bill from them because I was on the turnpike every day for months. With A LOT of paperwork I managed to get some of it back but never did get it all.
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Old May 22, 15, 11:02 am
  #49  
 
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Originally Posted by Cloudship View Post
It's that little small "handling"charge. That is really what they are doing now. And that is the problem.
Yes, but I'm suggesting that the charge be capped or otherwise regulated. As far as what constitutes a "reasonable" charge, that's debatable. I do see the argument that passing those charges along to customers does involve some cost on the part of the rental agency. But they seem to be using it as an excuse to ding people way too much. Charging for days that you don't incur a toll is ludicrous, for instance. That should be illegal.
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Old May 22, 15, 11:33 am
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Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
Yes, but I'm suggesting that the charge be capped or otherwise regulated. As far as what constitutes a "reasonable" charge, that's debatable. I do see the argument that passing those charges along to customers does involve some cost on the part of the rental agency. But they seem to be using it as an excuse to ding people way too much. Charging for days that you don't incur a toll is ludicrous, for instance. That should be illegal.
But they will turn around and say that there are costs for managing the accounts, costs for all of those passes, etc. The same thing as "shipping and handling". There is no way to really regulate it. And our government is more pro business than pro consumer. in an ideal world we wouldn't have to worry about that, but in an ideal world we wouldn't have to deal with automated tolls to begin with.
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Old May 22, 15, 1:35 pm
  #51  
 
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Someone raised the question about what does someone from another state (who does not have reciprocal plate pass ability) do, since they also do not have the rental car scheme option? I think if you do some research they all must have provisions for this - similar to what I found for the Golden Gate Bridge, call in advance and prepay - just do a little research before you go. As I said when I went to TPA, I found out what the roads with cashless tolls were and just avoided them, but sometimes that is not possible. If you google "how to pay a cashless toll on a road in {name the state}" you can be prepared in advance.
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Old May 22, 15, 2:33 pm
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That is if you know where you are going in advance. What if you end up having to take a detour? What if plans change?
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Old May 22, 15, 4:42 pm
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All I'm saying is that since they don't make it easy for us, we have to be preemptive and get as much information as we can, plan out alternate routes, and, if push comes to shove, pay the stupid fine. Find out from your rental car company what they charge for EACH toll you incur if you do NOT buy their every single day charge thing. It might still be cheaper in the long run than paying for many days you never use.
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Old May 24, 15, 11:30 am
  #54  
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We have a couple of toll roads here in the Raleigh-Durham Area that are cashless and they bill by mail, no other way to pay them. Thankfully, they're easy to avoid.

I like the Illinois system where you can go online after driving through one within a week and if you enter your license plate number, you can pay them that way. The annoying part is making sure you keep the receipt with your plate number on it.
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Old May 24, 15, 4:59 pm
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Our GPS told us to get off at a certain exit that us, out of towners didn't have a sticker for exiting. When we got to our hotel I called the Florida toll roads and talked to a very nice lady. She said since she knew we were worried that it would be more, we told her where we got on and where we got off. Somehow she pulled our car. She had us send a check for the correct amount. That place is in Georgia, right where we are from. She also said in the future to get off at a toll plaza and buy the sticker. We will. It did work out for us but it was confusing.
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Old May 24, 15, 8:30 pm
  #56  
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Thankfully, it is fairly easy to avoid the cashless electronic toll road of highway E11 in Dubai as well.
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Old May 25, 15, 4:33 pm
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Hold your breath and pray...

recently I did a round trip on an Alamo car rental from DCA to BOS... rented an ez-pay device from Alamo, or whatever they call it (cost me $3.50 or so for each of the 2 days)... most of the toll plaza's did NOT even display the amount of the toll... so figured I'd look to gawd to hope that somehow the accurate amount would get reported even though I did not have a clue what it should be...

A few days after the rental a charge of about $100 went thru from Alamo on the tolls... best I can tell, that actually is about right (that's crazy, but that's a whole 'nother story that has nothing to do with rental cars)...but one crazy system when you're at the mercy of the gawds to know if the tolls get reported, and if they are reported accurately...

who thunk up this system, and I pitty those on the east coast in particular, who have to dance with this patchwork system of road financing...
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Old May 27, 15, 9:16 am
  #58  
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Originally Posted by RSSrsvp View Post
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.
I travel to the SF area frequently and have one of their FasTrak transponders. I like to register my transponder with my rental vehicle so I don't get a surprise if my transponder does not work. It seems that this is not possible with Hertz in CA as they pre-register every one of their vehicles and this can not be changed. Thankfully, the one time my transponder failed to work I was in a car rented from a different cmpany.
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Old May 31, 15, 1:21 pm
  #59  
 
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Originally Posted by kxc262 View Post
For the Golden Gate bridge, you can prepay your tolls.
http://goldengate.org/tolls/tollpaymentoptions.php

I would recommend this for ALL rental car users crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to avoid silly surcharges.
It looks like they've added an option now where you can pay your toll online within 48 hours AFTER you've crossed the GG. That's good to know.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 1:41 pm
  #60  
 
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Originally Posted by pepsi38 View Post
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.
I drove on that toll road in a friend's car with CA plates (I'd driven the car from LA and was picking her up in Denver) a few weeks after they'd switched to the cashless system. The way it's set up is that it takes a picture and sends a bill to you in whatever state (based on DMV records), but they had very poor exception handling, which has been at least partialy fixed. When the system was new, there was no way to go online and pay- I looked pretty hard for a way to put in a plate number and date so she wouldn't have to find the bill and pay it, but they explicitly said on their web site there was no such thing. She was in the middle of moving, and hadn't updated her address with the DMV, and they apparently sent it in a "Do Not Forward" envelope to her old address, so it never caught up, and she only found out about it when they sent it to collections. The collections people were at least nice about it when she said "Sorry, I'm broke, you have a screwy system that actively made it difficult to pay, and there's no way I'm paying anything more than the base toll, so go away," and remarkably, they did.
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