This month marked the start of the brand new 495 Express Lanes on the Virginia sections of the beltway. As a regular user of the Dulles Toll road, I had to use Smart Tag for the Toll road years ago and then got EZ Pass from New Jersey for the turnpike. When they started charging me a monthly fee I returned my tags and got them from MD EZ Pass. When the Dulles Toll road adopted EZ Pass, I returned my Virginia Smart Tags. I can use the EZ Pass all along the Mid-Atlantic from Maine to Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia . I think you need a different tag to use the Sun Pass Lanes in Florida or the TxTag in Texas or FasTrak in California or E-470 in Colorado.
According to Andrea Sachs writing in the Washington Post, “In the United States, the first routes requiring a penny in the bucket appeared in the late 1700s, in the commerce-rich states of Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut. In the 1920s, tolls helped subsidize the infrastructure boom from sea to shining sea. Today, 104 toll agencies make sure that we pay for the roads beneath our wheels.”
A change that is occurring is the introduction of the all electronic toll roads without any toll collector booths. This means that if you don’t have a Electronic Toll pass, you pay a Video Toll Rate which is much higher. According to the MTA “Video Toll Rate (VRT). VRTs at all Maryland toll facilities are 150% of the base toll rates with a minimum of $1 and a maximum of $15 above the base toll rate.”
I think we have an opportunity to solve this problem in two ways :
a A country wide standard pass for Toll roads: Just like the EZPass is valid in 14 States it would be good for a initiative to have a pass that could be used anywhere in the US on Toll Roads. Mr. Ray La Hood are you listening?
b How about a SmartPhone App: With the increase in the ability to pay using your smartphone why not have a way using NFC, DLNA, Wifi Share or S beam or what ever technology to be able to pay the toll by using a app that you can activate when you go on a Toll Road? There are many apps in the Android Store that let you manage your accounts or find a way around toll roads but no app to pay on the toll roads. Google or maybe a smart entrepreneur will read this and come up with one.
Are you using the 495 Express Lanes user? What are your ideas of making it easier to pay for tolls?
You can also read WashingtonExec‘s chat with Shashi, titled “Interview with Web.com’s Shashi Bellamkonda: Social Media Engagement vs Awareness.”
This guest post is by Shashi Bellamkonda, senior director of social media and public relations — employees call him Social Media Swami — at Web.com, a company that helps small businesses establish an online presence and conduct online marketing. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.