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Ohio pike gets EZPass



Published: Wed, September 30, 2009 @ 12:01 a.m.

Fares will increase Thursday for motorists who don’t get an EZPass.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BEREA — New technology from the Ohio Turnpike Commission would eliminate motorists’ need to dig for change, locate tickets and wait in line.

Beginning Thursday, the commission will offer EZPass, an automatic, electronic toll-collection system. Many other states — including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and New York — implemented the system years ago.

L. George Distel, OTC’s executive director, said the turnpike had an aging system, and when comparing the cost of replacing the system with putting in one that offers EZPass, there wasn’t much difference.

EZPass also has the added benefit of customer convenience, Distel said.

The cost of the new system is about $50 million.

“The response has been tremendous,” he said. “We’ve been inundated. We’ve already had 16,000 transponders ordered, and we’re processing between 800 and 900 more. I expect that by Thursday, we’ll have 20,000.”

Applications for the pass are available on OTC’s Web site, www.ohioturnpike.org, or by calling (888) 876-7453.

The commission will lease transponders for 75 cents per month, and a credit card is required to open an EZPass account.

There is also an initial $3 shipping-and-handling fee.

A $25 starting balance per transponder will be charged to the credit card to establish the account. Toll fares will be deducted from that balance.

If the balance dips to $10 or lower, the customer’s credit card will be charged to increase the balance to at least $25.

Gwen Griffin of Mineral Ridge already has her EZPass.

“The rates are going up,” said Griffin, who drives to work in Brecksville every day. “If you get the EZPass, you keep the same rates.”

A cross-state trip will cost drivers $4.75 more under the new rate structure. For those who opt for EZ Pass, the rate structure won’t change.

The increase will fund the EZPass system as well as other capital improvements.

Griffin now pays $2 each way of her trip. Without EZPass, she’d pay an additional 75 cents each way.

“For me, the thing is the cost,” she said.

She also looks forward to spending less time waiting to pay tolls. With the transponder, drivers will be able to drive through without manually paying a toll.

Distel said the transponder, which is about the size of a deck of cards, eliminates the need for drivers to carry change or cash or to roll down their windows on a cold winter day.

Doug Sewell, who lives on Youngstown’s North Side, bought an EZPass through Pennsylvania about six years ago because he travels in Pennsylvania and New York. Now that it’s available, Sewell will use his EZPass in Ohio, too.

“It’s a great convenience and time-saver because I don’t have to carry cash or make complete stops to get on or off of turnpikes,” Sewell said in an e-mail.

He drives to Maryland and Washington, D.C., several times a year, “and it means not having to carry cash for turnpike tolls that now approach $10 each way.”

Mary Ann Cruz of Austintown commutes each day via the turnpike to her job in Brecksville. It costs her $20 per week, she said.

She’s not sure whether she’ll get an EZPass. She worries about the increasing rates beyond this week’s increase and the elimination of jobs.

Another fare increase is expected in 2012, which will also have an EZPass and a non-EZPass rate.

Cruz says she sees more people using the turnpike lately including motorists from Pennsylvania and Michigan and questions the need for a fare increase.

denise_dick@vindy.com


Comments

1hsisover(8 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow! It's about time!!! I'm so glad OH finally got it! However, I find it a little disturbing that motorists will be charged .75/mo. In an economy where people are trying to save $$ - this is actually an increase for current motorists. In IL, we had to pay for the transponder (maybe $10 - I don't remember, really) and the tolls stayed the same for us. For folks without the I-Pass, they pay double.

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2Askmeificare(700 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I totally agree with hsisover [ -"Wow! It's about time!!! I'm so glad OH finally got it! However, I find it a little disturbing that motorists will be charged .75/mo. In an economy where people are trying to save $$ - this is actually an increase for current motorists." ], but additionally I am very concerned about the loss of jobs statewide. What options are available for those losing their jobs [ i.e. (re)education programs, reassignments, etc.. ] ?

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3nrc78(1 comment)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Unless you want to keep your money in OH don't throw out your PA EZPass. It is $9 in administrative fees a year for an OH EZPass and $3 for PA EZPass. I will probably buy my second one from OH when I am ready.

How many jobs will actually be lost? One worker that I talked to was "thrilled" that it was coming. If the Turnpike Commission did any advance planning , I would say next to none.

Another question is "Why is Ohio one of the last in the midwest/east coast to go with EZPass?"

Look at the list of states that "already" have EZPass... Chicago Skyway, Delaware Department of Transportation, Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Indiana Toll Road, Maine Turnpike Authority, Maryland Transportation Authority, Massachusetts Port Authority, Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, New Hampshire DOT Bureau of Turnpikes, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, New York State Thruway Authority, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, Virginia Department of Transportation, and West Virginia Parkways Authority.

Until tomorrow, the Ohio Turnpike has a been a huge pain for out-of-state and in-state drivers. Thank you for EZPass!

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4sieben(1 comment)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

21st century? Welcome to the *20th century Ohio. I've had an EZ pass for 7 years, and I have friends (Ohioans) who have had one from NY since 1998 or 1999. Heck, even West Virginia and Indiana had EZ Pass before Ohio did.

And no, I don't feel sorry for the 30% of toll takers that will lose their jobs. They make $20 an hour for taking your change. Bizarre. This is the kind of jobs that should be lost.

Of course, if I have to pay a toll for this road, it should be perfectly maintained and I should be able to drive 90 mph.

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5Shakesspeare(12 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Get ready for this scam!

First off, there IS going to be job loss. It's already happening. The OTC is trying to get full timers to take buyouts and if they don't get enough takers, layoffs are coming. Add in the fact that there are less hours for the part timers is also happening.

Second, anyone who expects it to save them time hasn't seen Ohio's EZ pass system. Each lane is GATED and each lane will also be a toll lane. Also, they will now accept credit cards. So if you're lucky enough to get a lane without any cars or trucks, you'll still have to come to a complete stop for the GATE to go up slowly. If you get in a lane with someone paying by credit card, expect to wait even longer than now. As usual, the OTC has chosen the least effective method and with the most pain and suffering for the workers and the drivers.

I've not even mentioned the massive toll increases for special trucks and over height trucks. Trucks will now pay per axle not weight a nice BIG increase.

Getting prepped for sale probably.

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6northsideperson(365 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Fortunately I rarely travel Ohio turnpike, where I'm headed there are a number of free alternative or parallel routes.

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7TheLostPatrol(755 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

The Ohio Turnpike was "paid for" not too long ago. It should be a "free" road; at least for Ohio Residents. I will find an alternative route if I can avoid this increase; like I-76, I-77, etc. Why not sell it to a private entity, with the condition that if you can produce a valid Ohio Drivers License, you can travel it for FREE; everyone else pays a Toll, and the proceeds of the sale goes towards fixing up all the other roads in Ohio..

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8tommytabasco(23 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

First of all, I find it disturbing that this paper showed a photo of the PA Turnpike EZ-Pass lane. The sign states EZ-Pass lane 55 MPH. I wish that was the case in Ohio. This state has no plan to implement high speed by-pass lanes. We are still going to be subject to pull into the toll booth and basically come to a stop before continuing.

Secondly, I just received my 4 transponders for EZ-Pass. I paid nothing for the units, including no shipping charges, and I will not pay any monthly lease fee. I ordered them through the Massachusetts Turnpike (masspike.com). They are happy to have my account, and supply me everything I need; free of charge.

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