RFID Toll Collection Transponders

i-pass

In the stock photo above, the E-ZPass transponder would have looked much better in the obscured “printed-screen” section immediately above it’s mounted location, and since I have a Classica, that is, in fact, where I’ve installed mine, hidden from view behind the mirror.  That real estate is not available to those that have cameras mounted there for all of the factory “luxury” options like automatic wipers, auto-dimming headlamps and lane change assist.

As Sergey has noted in his article on FasTrak (the California version of RFID electronic toll collection), the cabins in the 124 Spider and the Mazda MX-5 are “RF-transparent”, meaning that the interior transponder can be located in either cubby, in the well for the opened convertible top, on the dash, etc. – anywhere that isn’t shielded overhead by metal, so that it can communicate with antennas mounted overhead to vehicles passing underneath.  See my Garage Door Remote article for an alternative mounting location that hides the transponder, yet keeps it from rattling around.

Commercial trucks (because of their vertical windshields)  and cars that have a metal-oxide coating on their windshield (for tinting), along with some hard-top car owners that simply don’t want a transponder visible within the car, utilize exterior transponders instead, designed to be mounted to their front license plate brackets, but that isn’t necessary with our vehicles.

Illinois was the first state to incorporate open road tolling with the E-ZPass technology, meaning drivers needn’t bother with toll booths, but rather, usually just drive at normal speeds underneath antennas on the tollway itself .  The E‑ZPass trademark belongs to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, so other states branding their own systems are legally required to use a different name for their systems, but any of these  transponders will function in all states using the same technology (currently 16, as shown below).  For instance, in my state of Illinois, the system is called I-Pass.

i-pass states1Not only are the transponders so convenient to use, but usually a significant cost savings vs. the cash price results from using them.  On a trip from Illinois to the Outer Banks in North Carolina we took last month, not once did we have to fumble with cash at a toll booth as we passed through Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.  Total of tolls was $5.00 (see report below).

i-pass states


Monitoring you account activity is very convenient

i-pass report

Chicago to OBX and return


Fees and discounts by state
(any of these transponders will work in the other states listed)

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-ZPass
State Monthly/annual fee(s) Deposit Minimum balance Discounts
Delaware $0 for email/web statements, $8/year for quarterly paper statements $15 per internal or external transponder (non-refundable) $10 minimum balance (account charged a replenishment amount based on monthly toll usage, with a minimum of $25) 50% off cash rates for Delaware SR‑1 when 30 or more qualifying trips are made by a two-axle passenger vehicle within a 30-day rolling period
Illinois (I-PASS) $0 per month $10 per internal transponder (refundable) $10 minimum balance (account charged a minimum replenishment amount of $20 or an amount 10% of average monthly usage, whichever is higher) 50% off cash rate for all transponders (ISTHA tolls and passenger cars only)
Indiana (formerly i‑Zoom) $1 per month/transponder $20 per internal transponder (refundable) $2.50 minimum balance (first 90 days), then $2.50 minimum balance or 25% of average monthly usage, whichever is greater (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $10 in the first 90 days, after which the minimum replenishment amount is based on the previous three months of usage on one’s account and is recalculated on the first of each month, the minimum amount being $10). Manual replenishment for any amount is available via ITR website. Discounts available to all transponders. Percentage varies by exit.
Kentucky/Indiana (RiverLink) $0 per month/transponder $15 per internal (hard-case) transponder (non-refundable) $20 initial minimum balance. Users can arrange for automatic credit card or ACH charges for replenishment; otherwise, the system sends reminders to replenish the account once the value drops below $10. Manual replenishment for any amount is available via RiverLink website. $2 discount per crossing for all transponders issued by any E-ZPass member (available for any vehicle type).
Discounts based on travel volume: For passenger vehicles only with locally issued transponders (both internal and stickers), the 40th crossing in a calendar month triggers a 50% discount from the regular transponder price, applied to all crossings (previous and future) in that calendar month.
Maine $0 per month $10 per internal transponder (non-refundable)

$17 per external transponder (non-refundable)

$15 minimum balance (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $20 when one’s account drops below minimum balance) Discounts based on travel volume: 30–39 account trips per month will equal a 25% discount applied to monthly account trips. 40+ account trips per month will equal a 50% discount applied to monthly account trips. For less than 30 account trips per month, Maine E-ZPass customers pay slightly less than cash rate. Other transponders pay cash rate.
Maryland $0 per month ($1.50 fee for non-residents only, effective July 1, 2015, waived if three Maryland E‑ZPass tolls incurred during the previous month)[43] $7.50 per internal transponder (non-refundable)

$33 per external transponder (non-refundable)

$40 per internal FUSION CVO (PrePass & E-ZPass all-in-one) transponder

$18 per internal E-ZPass Flex transponder (for use on I-495 Express Lanes)

$10 minimum balance (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $25 or an amount equal to one’s average monthly usage, whichever is higher) Discounts available to Maryland E‑ZPass users only. 10–37.5% discount off the passenger vehicle cash rate at all Maryland toll facilities. Various other plans available for bridges and regions.
Massachusetts (formerly Fast Lane) $0 per month if monthly statements by e-mail $0 per internal transponder $20 minimum balance (account is charged a replenishment amount whenever the balance falls below $10, replenishing the account to a balance of $20) Out-of-state E-ZPass: 30¢ discount at Sumner and Ted Williams tunnels and Tobin Memorial Bridge. Massachusetts E-ZPass: 55¢ discount at Sumner and Ted Williams Tunnels, 30¢ discount at Tobin Bridge. With special transponder obtained by application: Residents of Charlestownand Chelsea pay $0.15 on Tobin Bridge. Residents of East Boston, South Boston, and the North End pay $0.20 at Sumner and Ted Williams tunnels.
New Hampshire $1 per month for paper statements after year 1
$0 per month for email statements
$8.90 per internal transponder (non-refundable)

$15.19 per external transponder (non-refundable)

$.50 per month to lease transponder

$30 minimum balance (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $30 in the first 35 days, after which the minimum replenishment amount is based on the previous three months of usage on one’s account, the minimum amount being $30) 30% off cash rate for NH transponders only. Other transponders pay cash rate.
New Jersey $1 per month membership fee + $1 bimonthly for print/email statements $10 per internal transponder (refundable) or $0 if credit or direct debit replenishment. $10 or 25% of one’s replenishment threshold, whichever is greater (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $25 in the first 90 days, after which the minimum replenishment amount is based on the previous three months of usage on one’s account, the minimum amount being $25) Various discounts for NJ transponders only, including an approximate 25% off-peak auto discount on the New Jersey Turnpike and lesser peak and off-peak discounts for trucks and buses. Other transponders and autos during peak period pay cash rate. No auto or bus discount on the Garden State Parkway; however, truck tolls are discounted about 5% during the off peak period on the portion that permits their access.
New York $1 per month PANYNJ account service fee (no fee for MTA, Thruway, or Bridge Authority accounts) + $6/yr for monthly paper statements (bimonthly statements are free) $10 per internal transponder (refundable) or $0 if auto-replenish or pay per trip with a credit card backup $30 minimum balance (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $25 or an amount equal to one’s average usage in a 90‑day period, whichever is higher) or $0 minimum balance for pay per trip At all Port Authority facilities, E‑ZPass discounts are available. At MTA Bridges and Tunnels, E-ZPass discounts for tags issued by the New York E-ZPass Customer Service Center (NY E-ZPass) range from 32% to 56%. At most facilities, NY E-ZPass tolls are $2.74 less than Tolls by Mail rates (all of its facilities are open road cashless tolling). NY E-ZPass rates are $5.48 off for a round-trip at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and a $2.09 discount at the Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge. At the Henry Hudson Bridge, NY E-ZPass gives a $3.36 discount. At all New York State Thruway and New York State Bridge Authority facilities, E‑ZPass discounts apply. Discount rates apply only to customer tags issued by a New York E-ZPass Customer Service Center (discounts don’t apply to out-of-state E-ZPass holders).NY now also offers a Pay-Per-Trip option for total tolls to transact on a daily basis directly via the checking account linked per tag. It is optional (yet recommended) that a credit card be kept on file, but monthly balances are not required under this new payment option in New York.
North Carolina (Quick Pass) $0 per month, $1 per month after 12 consecutive months of no toll transactions ($5 Mail Statements) $7.40+Tax per internal (hard case) transponder (Works with Sun Pass and Peach pass as well) $20 minimum balance for first two transponders, $10 for each additional transponder, up to five transponders total. (Account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $10 or when account balance is 25% of one’s replenishment threshold, based on the previous three months of usage, whichever is greater.) A $5.00 charge will occur if transponder is not present 15% of the time you pass a toll. Discounts available to all E-ZPass, NC Quick Pass, SunPass, and Peach Pass users; percentage varies by exit.
Ohio 75¢ per month (waived for those who use their E-ZPass for 30 or more trips in a month on the Ohio Turnpike) $0 per internal transponder ($25 replacement fee within first four years) $25 minimum balance per transponder (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount based on the previous three months of usage, or the amount needed to return the account balance to $25.00 per transponder, whichever is greater) Ohio discount available to all transponders. Percentage varies by exit (0–35%).
Pennsylvania $3 per year/transponder, $4 per month for monthly paper statements $10 per internal transponder (refundable) or $0 if credit or direct debit replenishment $10 per transponder. Account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $35 whenever the balance reaches a total value of $10 or less ($15 or less for manual replenishment accounts) per transponder. If one’s account requires more than the allowed replenishments in a one-month cycle (2 times for credit cards and 3 times for ACH), the amount of replenishment will switch to average usage. 35% discount off cash rate to all E-Z Pass transponders.
Rhode Island $0 per month if monthly statements by e-mail $20.95 per internal transponder (purchase required)

$33.04 per external transponder (purchase required)

$25 minimum balance per transponder (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount based on the previous 45-days of usage and is recalculated every 90-days, or the amount needed to return the account balance to $25.00 per transponder, whichever is greater) $0.83 per car on the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge toll for Rhode Island residents only (as opposed to the normal $2/axle)
Virginia $0 per month, as of July 1, 2014 $35 per internal transponder $10 minimum balance per transponder (account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $35 per transponder or an amount equal to one’s average monthly usage, whichever is higher)
West Virginia $5 per year for “prepaid” plan (includes free use of the North Beckley ramp on the West Virginia Turnpike). Flat rate, unlimited use plans range from $5 to $285 for various parts of the West Virginia Turnpike. $10 per internal transponder $10 minimum balance (Account is charged a minimum replenishment amount of $20. No balance needed with annual WV unlimited plan) 35% off cash rate and free use of the US-19 North Beckley exit for WV transponders only (non-WV transponders pay cash rate)
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4 thoughts on “RFID Toll Collection Transponders

  1. I have a quick follow up question that you may be able to answer for me. I’m planning another cross-continent road trip this summer, but since I did it two years ago using the Canadian TransCanada Hwy, this time around I thought I’d head south to Montana and then eastbound using the Interstates. Do the Interstates have tolls, and if so, I’m assuming I’m stuck with the option of handing over cash in some form. Are paper bills accepted, or do I need to get a few rolls of quarters/dollar coins for this? I apologize for the dumb question, but my only experience with toll booths is in Florida where they appeared to be frequent, but of minimal cost. Thanks in advance…

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    • Yes, paper money is accepted, but you may need to get in a toll booth lane that is staffed with a cashier. Sorry I can’t speak from experience, as I haven’t been through a toll booth for a few years now. Although most interstates are free, since you will be heading east, I recommend doing a preliminary Google itinerary to determine the extent of toll roads, and purchasing an I-Pass transponder online before your trip ($10 deposit) if my expectations are confirmed . You will be so glad you did, as you encounter tolls! As an example, the tunnels through the Blue Ridge Mountains each have $2 tolls.

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      • Ahhh…. thank you for the insight. For some reason, I was thinking the transponders were state specific, and so I’d be stuck tossing coins in the buckets, or passing bills to a booth. I started doing some planning in Google maps, and it indicates which of the Interstates have tolls when you ask for route planning options. I’ve got my audio books and driving tunes list loaded on some USB sticks for when I get bored with XM, so I think I’m close to ready to roll!

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  2. Florida is a mess in the sense that there are 2 electronic pass systems not compatible with other states, a stretch of punch card tolling, and about half the state offering no method of direct cash payment on the roads. I’m planning a Florida road trip (from the West Coast) later this year and it’s quite a puzzle.

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