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The cashless toll road trap: FL and others

The cashless toll road trap: FL and others

Old May 7, 15, 12:46 pm
  #1  
nsx
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The cashless toll road trap: FL and others

Last year I encountered my first cashless toll road in Austin, TX. In a rental car you have no way to pay the thing. Furthermore the road signs do not warn you of this problem.

On top of that, it was after a wrong turn: I didn't benefit from the toll road in any way. The rental car company billed me a multi-dollar amount for a 25 or 50 cent toll.

Recently I had the same problem in Florida. I had been using toll roads, of which there are many in Florida, and I had plenty of quarters on hand to pay tolls. So I thought nothing of entering a toll road in Tampa. The toll road signs did NOT say "Cash not accepted" or anything of the sort. Yet on the exit there was no payment option at all. Just "we will send you a bill". No, they will send National a bill, and National will charge me $5 or whatever for a 50 cent toll.

What a way to welcome tourists to your state. I've read that these roads are all over southern Florida, although I don't know if they are better marked there than the one I encountered.

Always ask at the rental counter about cashless toll roads in the area. If you learn how they are marked (or not marked) you may be able to avoid them. But it's getting more difficult: GPS apps lead you right onto them.

There is a business opportunity here for a GPS app that avoids routing onto cashless toll roads.
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Old May 7, 15, 12:57 pm
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Vote with your wallet. REFUSE to visit Florida.
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Old May 7, 15, 8:51 pm
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Annoying to say the least. One way I've found to reduce the burden: grab a toll transponder. I have one for EZPass that never leaves my work bag. When in FL last month, I also picked up one of their transponders at Publix for use in my trips there. Now if only everyone took EZPass! Or they had an app for that...
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Old May 8, 15, 1:15 pm
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Originally Posted by nsx View Post
What a way to welcome tourists to your state.
Agreed. And in a state that has a very high number of inbound tourists, too. How much do you want to bet that car rental companies have quietly lobbied for these roads and the lack of signage, given the profit they make on these billings?

Originally Posted by IAHtraveler View Post
Now if only everyone took EZPass! Or they had an app for that...
Exactly. There's no reason why there shouldn't be a nationally accepted payment platform. It would (I assume) be easy to develop an app that would use GPS to determine tolls owed and the payments are debited from a prepaid account. Obviously there would be quirks to iron out (such as making sure that passengers are not charged...there'd have to be a way to turn the app off, for instance...or have one person in the vehicle link their phone to the car's computer system via bluetooth...the point being there are ways around that problem).
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Old May 8, 15, 7:32 pm
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I had the same problem in South Florida (before I moved there). A surprise cashless toll road -- taken in error -- in a rental car cost me $15. Then in 2014, I made the completely unavoidable mistake of driving south over the now-cashless Golden Gate Bridge in a rental car. This time, the $7 toll cost me almost $40!!!!! I was really furious about that one. There was no reasonable alternative route and no way to pay in cash or even by credit card. This is a problem that really needs to be solved. One solution would be for the car-rental companies to charge back only their actual costs and not let third-party billing companies triple or quadruple those costs at our expense.

Bruce
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Old May 9, 15, 12:00 pm
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In southern Cali, they have a way where you can pay online within 5 days of taking the toll road. However, make sure you remember the entrance and exit points or you will be paying extra for nothing.
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Old May 9, 15, 1:10 pm
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Originally Posted by kaaria View Post
In southern Cali, they have a way where you can pay online within 5 days of taking the toll road. However, make sure you remember the entrance and exit points or you will be paying extra for nothing.
Our niece drove our car on this road. She was oblivious to the sign. I subsequently got a fine for $125 or so. She paid, and was mortified.

There is a bridge in Seattle that is the same thing. It's a challenge to read the sign while driving, remember the website, and get the toll paid.
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Old May 9, 15, 1:18 pm
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Is it only me or does no one else set their GPS to "avoid tolls". Even on a visit to New Jersey, passing through New York. I did get confused because you can't avoid a toll crossing from New Jersey to Connecticut and it was sending me all the way up to Albany; but once I figured it out, I reprogrammed it for that one instance and paid the toll.

No problems in the many years I've been traveling and handling a gps.
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Old May 9, 15, 1:47 pm
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Try avoiding the Golden Gate Bridge!

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Old May 9, 15, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by bdschobel View Post
Try avoiding the Golden Gate Bridge!

Bruce
Isn't the golden gate bridge only tolled heading into San Fran but not tolled leaving?
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Old May 9, 15, 3:16 pm
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Cool

Originally Posted by Yellowjj View Post
Isn't the golden gate bridge only tolled heading into San Fran but not tolled leaving?
What difference does that make? If you are heading south, you are heading south.
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Old May 9, 15, 3:57 pm
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And, indeed, I drove north for free, but when I went back south (heading to SFO Airport), the cashless toll got me, big-time!

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Old May 9, 15, 5:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
What difference does that make? If you are heading south, you are heading south.
Quite obviously, plan around it. Employ more time and go the Oakland route back. The bridge has been cashless since 2014. I too wanted to visited San Fran and promptly researched everything I needed to know.

A little research goes a long way.
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Old May 9, 15, 6:08 pm
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Well, sure, if I knew to even ask the question, I might have found out in advance. (And maybe not, since the Golden Gate Bridge went cashless just a month or two before it caught me.) But even if I knew, did I really have any alternative to get back to SFO? Only an idiot would drive all the way around SF Bay to approach the airport from the south. Is the SF Bay Bridge also cashless? I have no idea.

Anyway, the point here is that these new, high-tech cashless toll roads are a nightmare for people in rental cars. That remains true.

Bruce
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Old May 9, 15, 7:40 pm
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Originally Posted by bdschobel View Post
Well, sure, if I knew to even ask the question, I might have found out in advance. (And maybe not, since the Golden Gate Bridge went cashless just a month or two before it caught me.) But even if I knew, did I really have any alternative to get back to SFO? Only an idiot would drive all the way around SF Bay to approach the airport from the south. Is the SF Bay Bridge also cashless? I have no idea.
I actually agree with you. In my case I planned it as a scenic tour and did the Oakland route back, but of course for someone pressed for time it would make no sense. AFAIK only the GG bridge is cashless.

I always try to research a city which I know to have tolls ahead of time just to make sure none are cashless where I need to go, otherwise if an alternative route isn't feasible, I'll just rent the toll transponder from the rental company.

Anyway, the point here is that these new, high-tech cashless toll roads are a nightmare for people in rental cars. That remains true.

Bruce
I agree with you and 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
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