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OC Toll Roads to Go Cashless in 2013

Drivers on the 241, 261, 73 and 133 will have to pay online or use FasTrak beginning in September 2013. The idea has stirred controversy elsewhere.

Say goodbye to cash-only tollbooths on the 73, 261, 241 and 133.

Starting in September 2013, drivers will have to use a FasTrak transponder or register online for a pay-as-you-go system that reads car license plates and bills people electronically.

The new system is designed to eventually save $3.2 million a year, mainly by eliminating tollbooth operator jobs, according to the Transportation Corridor Agencies. However, the transition to "all-electronic tolling" will cost TCA an estimated $9.4 million.

Under the new system, drivers without a FasTrak transponder will have to pay tolls online within 48 hours or receive a fine of $57.50 plus the unpaid toll.

Although details are still being worked out, drivers will have the option of setting up an online account with their license plate number or just paying after using the road, according to TCA spokeswoman Lori Olin.

"If you just want to use it randomly and pay-as-you-go, you can go online within 48 hours," she said.

When asked if such drivers would be charged an additional fee to set up or maintain a pay-as-you-go account, as is the case in other cashless states, Olin said, "It's too early for me to be able to provide that specific info."

The pay-as-you-go system will only be valid for Orange County toll roads. Non-FasTrak drivers will not be able to use the 91 Freeway's toll lanes, San Diego toll roads, the Golden Gate Bridge or other spots across the state where FasTrak is accepted.

The new system's debut will coincide with a state law that will make toll road signs purple.

Other toll agencies have taken similar steps toward a cash-free system, Olin said, citing examples in Florida, Texas and Colorado. However, the idea has stirred some controversy.

Denver's E-470 was the first to convert to a cashless toll system. The Denver Post collected various complaints about the change, many from drivers upset over being fined for toll bills they said they never received. One woman was charged more than $2,500 for $72.50 in unpaid tolls.

Other critics say the system unfairly penalizes rental car drivers.

Orange County's switchover will cut 81 contracted jobs and 12 TCA jobs, officials said.

For more details, visit TCA's electronic tolling FAQ page.

Lisa Telles July 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Hello Tim, Thank you for your interest and your comments. Because we won’t actually be removing cash toll collection until fall 2013, we have time to adjust some of the policies we’ve initially identified as we finalize the program. Your concern about the 48-hour time period for the “pay-as-you-go” option has also come up in our customer research. The violation process is automated so we are working to determine the best window of time that customers need to act after they drive on one of our toll roads to avoid receiving a violation -- if they don’t have FasTrak or one of the new license plate-based accounts. We do plan to be as lenient as possible the first few months after the conversion as customers get used to the new system. Sincerely, Lisa Telles,Chief Communications Officer TCA/The Toll Roads
Tim Chase July 14, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Glenn, I would agree that you would have superior knowledge of major software and system migrations. Though I am but a fly on the wall, on this issue. I think that improving the weak spots is better than changing the total plan. The phrase "Not throwing the baby out with the bath water" applies here. In my belief, relaxing the convenience and fine fee's may help to ease the financial disruptions with the conversion process. If there are initial logistical disturbance this will be a temporary situation. There are examples of this in other areas of the country currently. My opinions are of course opinions. Regards, Timothy Chase
mark philip July 14, 2012 at 02:49 PM
stupid idea..most of the booths are automated already..what "employee cost" is that? leave it automated and if need be raise the toll to pay the cost of the machines..this is how NOT to have people use the toll road..what do you gain? its like raising the toll on the 91 fast track lanes during heavy use times..isn't the idea to get more people to use the fast track as well? think twice about this !
mark philip July 14, 2012 at 02:53 PM
"QUOTE: We will be removing all cash toll collection, including the automatic toll machines which will elinimante costs associated with maintenance of the machines, collection and transporting cash, and counting cash. " I would be happy to do this ll for $150,000 a year (you probably pay more than that now)
Mike T July 17, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Well, let's just take a look and see what we have here inside Pandoras box.....

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