E-ZPass system implemented on Ohio Turnpike

Leila Archer

The Ohio Turnpike is implementing the E-ZPass system like that of Pennsylvania. Now that everything is in place at the gates, the system will take effect today. Shaye A. Painter | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Turnpike drivers traveling in Ohio may no longer need to worry about having cash to pay for tolls.

The Ohio Turnpike is implementing the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system today. Thirteen states, including Pennsylvania and Indiana, already have the system in place. The Ohio E-ZPass is compatible with the systems in the other E-ZPass states.

E-ZPass users will have a transponder that mounts to the windshield of their car, allowing them to drive through toll lanes without stopping. The toll is then automatically deducted from the E-ZPass account.

In order to receive the transponder, motorists are required to obtain an account, which can be leased for 75 cents per month. A $25 per transponder initial fee ($3 goes toward shipping the transponder) will be charged to a motorist’s credit card.

When the balance on the transponder drops below $10, the account will be automatically charged to reload the E-ZPass.

Lauren Hakos, public affairs manager for the Ohio Turnpike Commission, said after the initial purchase, the commission will keep track of the accumulated toll each month.

“After 90 days, they will determine the replenishment amount on an individual’s account when it reaches or falls below $10,” she said.

In addition to a new toll payment system, rates for non-E-ZPass users will increase.

Hakos said people who occasionally use the turnpike might want to invest in one of the transponders.

“There is quite a savings for using E-ZPass,” she said. “Even the infrequent user may benefit from opening an E-ZPass account because of the savings in tolls.”

Hakos said the demand for the E-ZPass is what prompted Ohio to implement the program.

“We have a totally new toll collection system . and due to customer demand and request to have E-ZPass, which was a very expensive system – basically $50 million – the commission is going to be implementing the rate increase basically to continue on with our capital improvements and continuing with the added customer conveniences such as the E-ZPass,” she said.

Indiana and Pennsylvania also have E-ZPass technology, which Hakos said is one reason why demand for the system in Ohio was so high.

“It basically allows an individual to travel uninterrupted without having to physically stop at a toll booth,” she said. “If someone has an E-ZPass transponder, they can travel from Chicago through to New York, New Jersey and not have to physically stop at a toll booth.”

Pennsylvania has had the E-ZPass system since 2000. Carl DeFebo, manager of media relations and public relations for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said the state implemented the program almost 10 years ago for many of the same reasons as Ohio.

“Pennsylvania was surrounded by E-ZPass states to the east and to the south. E-ZPass was in existence in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, and a lot of the traffic coming in from especially around the Philadelphia area, a lot of customers already had E-ZPasses from other states,” he said. “It was just a matter of us responding to customer demand.”

DeFebo said it took about eight years for half of the turnpike’s customers to use E-ZPass, which is about 95 million customers.

“With half of our revenue generated electronically, I think it’s obvious how it (E-ZPass) has caught on,” he said.

Hakos said there are about 11,000 E-ZPass accounts and 16,000 transponders. She said businesses and families will often buy multiple transponders.

DeFebo said he thinks it’s great that Ohio is implementing the system.

“It connects the dots between Indiana and Pennsylvania,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Leila Archer at [email protected]