Confirmed victory

No Virginia E-ZPass Fee

This petition made change with 106 supporters!

VDOT is considering a monthly fee for each Virginia issued E-ZPass transponder you currently have. The proposed fee is “about $1 per transponder” and would start July 1st. Read that as, it will likely start at $1 per month and adjust higher annually as needed.

The following information comes from John W. Lawson, the VDOT CFO. VDOT’s annual cost to manage E-ZPass is $10 million. The costs are currently recovered by charging transaction fees to the toll facilities. VDOT wants to supplement this revenue with additional revenue from our pockets. There are 560,000 E-Pass holders in Virginia and between us we have 900,000 transponders. VDOT sees that $10.8 million dollars as EZ money.

I wrote to VDOT to express my concern with the fee and their response let me know that “The fee would also help control costs and manage the selection and demand for E-ZPass transponders.” Read that again—VDOT feels they can charge a fee to control costs. It controls their costs by passing the fee to drivers. VDOT also expects some current E-ZPass holders to turn in their E-ZPass because of the fee, that’s the management of demand; that’s also the part that will make them increase the fee from $1 to something more. VDOT frequently asked questions point out that 14 out of 24 other states already charge similar fees and use this as partial justification for implementing a fee in Virginia. For instance, Maryland charges $1.50 a month if you have fewer than 3 Maryland toll transactions in a month.

If VDOT follows through with the fee, let’s fulfill their demand management desires and take E-ZPass demand to ZERO. Say I-PASS on E-ZPass; that’s I-PASS for the Illinois I-Pass. The I-Pass is free ($10 refundable deposit/$40 prepaid tolls to open an account) and accepted everywhere E-ZPass is accepted. If you happen to travel in Illinois, you also receive a 50% discount on tolls. Illinois has figured this out, Virginia should work with them to learn how to make improvements without introducing new fees.

Don’t expect Illinois to start charging for the I-Pass. The I-Pass has been in use since 1993. More than 4 million transponders have been issued by the Illinois Tollway—that’s more than 4 times the number in Virginia! 84 percent of Tollway drivers use I-PASS. In 2007, The Tollway opened five Customer Service Centers, bringing the number of Customer Service Centers to six. All this without ever charging a fee; VDOT can certainly learn something from them.

If VDOT tries to make EZ money, just say I-PASS!

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