Toll roads to nix cash in favor of ‘Express Account’ Options

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(Photo credit: FasTrak)

(Photo credit: FasTrak)

IRVINE (CNS) – A pre-paid transponder for toll roads ought to be “standard equipment” in any Southland driver’s vehicle but, even without it, motorists won’t have to fumble for change at toll booths anymore, Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer said today.

Spitzer, along with several other area leaders, today discussed the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ program to eliminate cash collections along Orange County toll roads by May.

“You really can’t go anywhere without a toll road connection,” Spitzer said. “A transponder in your car is standard equipment for most of us.”

If the FasTrak transponder is “not your thing,” motorists can register online with the toll agency to have tolls put on a credit card, Transportation Corridor Agencies spokeswoman Lisa Telles said.

The agency will remove cash-collection booths, and the contractor who operates them will reassign workers,Telles said. The change affects about 89 full- and part-time workers, she added.

Toll road executives expect the ExpressAccount program to be more popular with occasional toll road users.

The move away from cash is expected to save the agency $13.3 million over the next five years, Telles said. That includes the costs of upgrading the cameras, antennas and other equipment to record vehicle information as motorists pass through, Telles said.

The agency also will install signs warning drivers that cash is going out of style. Motorists who haven’t registered online — it requires vehicle and license information and a credit card number — will have two days to call and make a payment, Telles said.  The agency previously offered that option every six months for motorists who forgot to pay.

The ExpressAccount will only be implemented for the San Joaquin Hill (73) toll road as well as the Foothill Eastern Transportation Corridor toll roads, 241, 261 and 133.

About 81 percent of daily trips involve motorists using the FasTrak transponder, Telles said. About 16 percent pay cash, she added.

It’s important to make toll road usage more convenient, Spitzer said.

“They’re here to stay, you’re going to see more toll roads, not less,” Spitzer said.

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