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Higher Illinois tollway fees coming for cars without a transponder

December 29, 2017
Dealers should consider obtaining a tollway transponder for each of their loaner and rental vehicles, as the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority soon will make costlier assessments for vehicles that ride on the state’s tollways without a transponder.
Multiple vehicles and license plates currently can be registered to a single tollway account. If a vehicle without a transponder blows through an open-tolling lane without paying, a video camera system (or in some cases, an actual human) checks the images snapped of license plates on each car that doesn’t pay, then checks to see if the car is registered to an I-Pass account. 
If so, the account is dinged for the lower I-Pass toll — half the cash toll rate — just as if the transponder had been there all along. It shows up on the account holder’s statement as a v-toll — a friendly reminder to make sure the transponder is working. But there’s no penalty.
The tollway authority soon will charge the cash toll rate for drivers who don’t carry a transponder in their cars. That’s because it costs 23 cents to process a toll transaction using the video system, but only 8 cents with a working transponder.
Since efficiency is what open road tolling is all about, the tollway authority reasons that it hardly makes sense to charge the lower I-Pass rate if a vehicle doesn’t have an I-Pass transponder. No penalty for forgetting to move the transponder between cars that share an account means there’s no incentive to remember to move it. 
But the Tollway still plans to cut drivers a lot of slack. Under the new rules, the cash rate won’t kick in until a car has racked up five v-tolls in a month. The account holder will get an email after the fifth one.
The idea is to encourage I-Pass customers to put a transponder in every vehicle. Additional transponders each carry a $10 deposit. Customers don’t have to maintain a separate account or a larger balance.