Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

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Leeraar
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Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:10 am

I travel a lot, sometimes to places that have toll roads and where I rent a car. What are best practices? Which car rental companies have the best policies?

I have personally had bad experiences in Ontario, Canada on the Hwy 407 ETR and in Chicago. Recently, in San Francisco, there was a complex disclaimer at the rental counter about tolls on the Golden Gate. (I did not go that way.) A couple of weeks ago I drove my personal car on the New York Thruway. While paying cash was not a problem, it seemed the E-ZPass rates were much lower.

Next week I will be in Houston, my first ever visit to Texas. I hear they may have phantom toll roads that can lead to large charges after the fact, either from the toll authority or the car rental company.

So, what's a visitor or occasional user to do? With a rental car or with a personal car? My questions are about:

Texas (Houston and Dallas).
NE USA E-ZPass (NY, MA, NJ, CT, ...).
Cross-border (Canada - MI and NY).
Chicago area.
PA and the Philadelphia area. (OK, driving the PA Turnpike in western PA is so gorgeous, I'll pay whatever they want. I just wish they had a gas station between Youngstown and Pittsburgh.)

Thank you,

L.
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TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:16 am

Not sure about most of them, but I use my EZ pass with rentals. Just need to give them a call with the plate number and they will enroll the rental for the week(s) you have it. Used it recently on trip from Vermont to Kentucky.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:42 am

TheGreyingDuke wrote:Not sure about most of them, but I use my EZ pass with rentals. Just need to give them a call with the plate number and they will enroll the rental for the week(s) you have it. Used it recently on trip from Vermont to Kentucky.
Sounds great. What is the best way for an occasional user to get an E-ZPass transponder?

L.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by LeeMKE » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:19 am

We drive occasionally to Chicago.

We just went to the website for Il Ez-pass, paid a fee and they mailed the transponder to us.

What I don't know is whether our transponder can be registered in other areas. Maybe another Boglehead can comment on that.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by livesoft » Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:53 am

Here is what I do: I ask, "How much do you charge me for the toll pass? Do I have to use it?" If they say, you can't go anywhere without paying a toll (i.e. Denver), then I just pay it. Otherwise, I use it if needed (LA). Bogleheads should be making so much money from their investments that they really should not worry about rental cars and toll roads.

In the Houston area, they will make sure your license plate matches your EZ Tag. The toll road has a web site and an FAQ. Here you go: https://www.hctra.org/about_faq/can-i-u ... al-vehicle Oh look! It tells you about nationwide plate pass system for use with rental cars. If only madbrain had know about this. :twisted:
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by deanbrew » Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:11 am

Not sure about most of them, but I use my EZ pass with rentals. Just need to give them a call with the plate number and they will enroll the rental for the week(s) you have it. Used it recently on trip from Vermont to Kentucky.
I have used my EZ pass in several cars I own, friend's cars and rental cars, and have never bothered to register or notify anyone. The transponder works fine no matter what vehicle it is in. Any tolls get charged on my account. For a list of where the EZ Pass works, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-ZPass
Sounds great. What is the best way for an occasional user to get an E-ZPass transponder?
If "best" means most convenient, then surely your home state is the way to go. If "best" means cheapest, then it looks like Massachusetts is the winner. I live in PA, but got my EZ Pass through Mass. No upfront fee and no monthly fee. I often go months and months without getting on a toll road, but my transponder works fine when I do. If Mass ever starts charging a monthly fee, I'll take another look and figure out where to get a new one.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:52 am

Thank you all. I will get an E-ZPass transponder, and I go to Houston forewarned and forearmed.

L.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:55 am

deanbrew wrote:I have used my EZ pass in several cars I own, friend's cars and rental cars, and have never bothered to register or notify anyone. The transponder works fine no matter what vehicle it is in. Any tolls get charged on my account. For a list of where the EZ Pass works, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-ZPass
Interesting... I have done that in the past and always have gotten a letter form EZ pass billing me for the toll and I needed to write them and say, "yes, that was my vehicle", which they already knew since they sent the letter to me, the same person who owned the transpoder.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by BuckyBadger » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:08 pm

Leeraar wrote:Thank you all. I will get an E-ZPass transponder, and I go to Houston forewarned and forearmed.

L.
Don't think ezpass will help you in Texas. (Searched for iPass, as that is what I have, but ipass and ezPass are interchangeable.)

http://www.illinoistollway.com/tolls-an ... ll-systems

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by deanbrew » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:27 pm

TheGreyingDuke wrote: Interesting... I have done that in the past and always have gotten a letter form EZ pass billing me for the toll and I needed to write them and say, "yes, that was my vehicle", which they already knew since they sent the letter to me, the same person who owned the transpoder.
Interesting, indeed. Your account suggests that the autopay systems take a picture of every car's license plate, and then attempt to match up transponder to license plate. Why would they do that for every transaction? I would think that the only time the license plate is important is when the toll is not paid. I have let both of my kids borrow my EZPass transponder, and my wife has used hers in a friend's vehicle when they went on trips a couple of times, and I've never had an issue. These examples I can think of occurred in PA and MD. I wonder if it varies by location.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by dpc » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:31 pm

Why not just go through the cash lane and pay the toll? Seems a lot simpler.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by BuckyBadger » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:38 pm

dpc wrote:Why not just go through the cash lane and pay the toll? Seems a lot simpler.
This is increasingly impossible. Many toll roads are cash-free. New ones are being built that way and old ones are being modified. There are many many toll roads where paying in cash is impossible.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by rob » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:44 pm

BuckyBadger wrote:
dpc wrote:Why not just go through the cash lane and pay the toll? Seems a lot simpler.
This is increasingly impossible. Many toll roads are cash-free. New ones are being built that way and old ones are being modified. There are many many toll roads where paying in cash is impossible.
Even in those increasingly smaller cases with a cash option.... it is usually a LOT slower.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:02 pm

BuckyBadger wrote:
dpc wrote:Why not just go through the cash lane and pay the toll? Seems a lot simpler.
This is increasingly impossible. Many toll roads are cash-free. New ones are being built that way and old ones are being modified. There are many many toll roads where paying in cash is impossible.

And some like the 407 in Metro Toronto lack any real signage telling you what you need to do if you do NOT have the transponder. I made that mistake in August in my company car.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:06 pm

LeeMKE wrote:We drive occasionally to Chicago.

We just went to the website for Il Ez-pass, paid a fee and they mailed the transponder to us.

What I don't know is whether our transponder can be registered in other areas. Maybe another Boglehead can comment on that.

The I-Pass works for the EZ Pass from IL to NY and also over the MD bridges, if I remember correctly. It does NOT work in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, or in Canada.

Do remember that any unused toll balances may be refunded should you find that you no longer need it.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by deanbrew » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:22 pm

dpc wrote:Why not just go through the cash lane and pay the toll? Seems a lot simpler.
I'm not sure about other states, but in PA you pay a huge premium to pay cash. If you enter from Ohio and go to Harrisburg, you pay $21.39 if you use EZ pass, but you pay $30.10 if you pay cash, or 41 percent more. And as others point out, there are more and more places where you can't pay cash, as there are no attendants. PA plans to eliminate human toll collectors in a few years. I imagine there will still be some way to pay in cash, perhaps with machines, but it will no doubt be very slow.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by The Wizard » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:31 pm

Oklahoma has a stupid toll system on I 44.
Exact change it said, $1.25, but then when I got to the machine, it said coins only. Too bad, I threw a dollar bill and a quarter in the basket and steamed onward.
Note, I do have an ez pass nailed to the front of the Mustang, but OK is still living in the past...
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:00 pm

deanbrew wrote:
dpc wrote:Why not just go through the cash lane and pay the toll? Seems a lot simpler.
I'm not sure about other states, but in PA you pay a huge premium to pay cash. If you enter from Ohio and go to Harrisburg, you pay $21.39 if you use EZ pass, but you pay $30.10 if you pay cash, or 41 percent more. And as others point out, there are more and more places where you can't pay cash, as there are no attendants. PA plans to eliminate human toll collectors in a few years. I imagine there will still be some way to pay in cash, perhaps with machines, but it will no doubt be very slow.
Around Chicago IIRC, there are toll machines at the toll road exits (and some entrances) that require coins only, no attendants.

On the NY State Thruway, paying cash is significantly more expensive than E-ZPass.

L.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:11 pm

I'm in Mass and have my ezpass with NY. Mass started out with transponder fees and ond transponder per account. (Don't know about today). NY allows 4 transponders per account with no limits that I've noticed on number of vehicles. I occationally forget to remove a car and end up with as many as 10 and there is no issue. My dealings with Mass have always been a mess with departments transferring me endlessly. NY has always been friendly and efficient. When the mass lane sensors dont read my tag, I call NY and the correct the fee without a problem every time.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:24 pm

deanbrew wrote:Your account suggests that the autopay systems take a picture of every car's license plate, and then attempt to match up transponder to license plate. Why would they do that for every transaction?
There are different tolls for different classes of vehicles. Verifying the license plates will help enforce this. How exceptions are handled will depend in part on how many exceptions there are. If mismatched plates/electronic tags are fairly rare sending letters is probably easier than querying multiple state databases.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Bungo » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:33 pm

Leeraar wrote: Recently, in San Francisco, there was a complex disclaimer at the rental counter about tolls on the Golden Gate. (I did not go that way.)
I don't know about the other states you mentioned, so I'll just address the Golden Gate Bridge in case you're interested for future reference. It's now cash-free, and the preferred method of payment is a Fastrak transponder. However, if you don't have one, you can still use the bridge and pay either in advance or after the fact ("pay by plate"). If you haven't set up an account beforehand, you can do a one-time payment within 48 hours after using the bridge. It costs an extra dollar to pay by plate instead of Fastrak ($7 vs. $6):

http://goldengate.org/tolls/

Some rental car agencies will handle the toll if you don't, and will then bill you for it, plus a convenience fee of course. Looks like you generally have to opt in to this arrangement, and they bill you the convenience fee every day whether or not you use it. Better to use pay-by-plate if possible.

http://goldengate.org/tolls/rentaltollprograms.php

Also note that there is no toll to leave San Francisco on either the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge. Only the direction entering the city has a toll.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:11 pm

I just called the Illinois Tollway about a transponder, and they said NOT to register a rental car plate. You can then be charged for unpaid tolls incurred by previous renters. They did say that in a rental car you can go through an attended lane and pay that one toll only through the transponder. (Their cash tolls are twice the cost of the transponder tolls.)

I see that Illinois' transponders are on sale online for the rest of the month. I will buy one. It seems that on the east coast that Massachusetts' transponders are the best deal, but they really discourage out-of-staters from buying them.

L.
Last edited by Leeraar on Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by rooms222 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:35 pm

If you go to NYC a lot, you may want to pick up an EZ pass to go from either the MTA or the NY Thruway. Only NY State EZ Passes get the substantial discount on the bridges around the city. You cannot buy this online. If you do, and are not a NY State resident you will be set up with one with a monthly fee. NY has a law against monthly fees, but it only applies to NY residents. In the city, you can buy them at any of the toll bridges entirely within the city (not the GW) or I got one at the transit museum in Brooklyn. https://www.e-zpassny.com/en/onthego/locations.shtml

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:47 pm

rooms222 wrote:If you go to NYC a lot, you may want to pick up an EZ pass to go from either the MTA or the NY Thruway. Only NY State EZ Passes get the substantial discount on the bridges around the city. You cannot buy this online. If you do, and are not a NY State resident you will be set up with one with a monthly fee. NY has a law against monthly fees, but it only applies to NY residents. In the city, you can buy them at any of the toll bridges entirely within the city (not the GW) or I got one at the transit museum in Brooklyn. https://www.e-zpassny.com/en/onthego/locations.shtml
Thank you! My travel schedule probably involves Princeton, NJ next month. I go to Boston / RI twice a year, PA once a year, IL / Chicago once a year. My main reason for this Jihad/Crusade is to avoid getting ripped off by rental car companies.

L.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by texasdiver » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:28 pm

The OP is talking about Houston. The toll road tags are a bit different here in Texas. They are window stickers that can't be transferred from car to car. When you open the account you do it as the car owner and type in the licence plate, VIN, and other data and get the sticker tag in the mail.

However they do have several options for using rental cars on Houston toll roads. As far as I know the same thing applies to the other toll roads in Texas. There is a different system in Austin and a 3rd system in Dallas but they are all cross compatible. I have the Austin tag and it works everywhere in the state except the airports.

Here is the Houston toll road web site FAQ pertaining to rental cars.

https://www.hctra.org/about_faq?CSRT=94 ... 1880557104

They recommend using something called plate pass for nationwide rental car usage

https://www.platepass.com/

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Crimsontide » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:46 pm

Leeraar wrote: I hear they may have phantom toll roads that can lead to large charges after the fact

L.
Phantom toll roads??? There is nothing hidden or "phantom" about them. You will know dang well when you roll on to one, the signage is excellent as is the road surface and enhanced landscaping :happy Just FYI, the cash lanes are all gone in DFW, all toll tag and photo enforced now.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by rpike » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:11 pm

We tried to use my wife's NH EZ-Pass transponder in FL earlier this year, but found they will not honor it there.
We have used it driving south as far as Maryland and every state along the way accepted it without issue.

I think you can probably buy a FL transponder for less than the rental car agencies will charge to rent one of theirs for a week; I think you can order one online from their web site.
I also noticed buried in the fine print from the Budget rental agreement, that although you are using their transponder, they will charge your credit card the higher cash toll rates in addition to the daily convenience fee (for every day of the rental regardless of whether or for how many days you actually use it!).

The NH EZpass web site lets you log into your account and add and remove vehicles. The only issue I recall is that I did not know the user ID, but was able to log in using the transponder serial number as an alternative for the user ID.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by texasdiver » Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:12 pm

It seems like a comparison of rental car agencies based on how they manage tolls might be in order.

I don't know if there is any web site out there that does this but if how the different rental agencies charge for toll road tolls differs markedly than that factor alone might overwhelm any minor price difference in the actual rental car price.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Sagenick48 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:53 pm

Crimsontide wrote:
Leeraar wrote: I hear they may have phantom toll roads that can lead to large charges after the fact

L.
Phantom toll roads??? There is nothing hidden or "phantom" about them. You will know dang well when you roll on to one, the signage is excellent as is the road surface and enhanced landscaping :happy Just FYI, the cash lanes are all gone in DFW, all toll tag and photo enforced now.

No offense Crimson but that is flat out wrong. I have been a driver for over 50 years and for the first time last September, along with the three other occupants of the rental car I was driving, encountered a toll bridge without any toll lane or toll booth. Maybe all you folks east of the Mississippi are used to this con game but those of us in fly over country don't deal with this stuff. Instead we pay taxes and take care of our roads. There is winter and road construction season.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Sun Dec 14, 2014 3:11 pm

Received my Illinois I-Pass transponder in the mail. All set!

For rental cars, they say to be sure to mount the transponder correctly. Additional mounting strips (sticky thingies) are free at toll booths. They say you should not register the rental car plate.

Dang! I feel like driving to Chicago!

L.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:18 pm

Leeraar wrote:Received my Illinois I-Pass transponder in the mail. All set!

For rental cars, they say to be sure to mount the transponder correctly. Additional mounting strips (sticky thingies) are free at toll booths. They say you should not register the rental car plate.

Dang! I feel like driving to Chicago!

L.
I used the transponder for the first time this last week, on a trip to New Jersey / New York. It worked fine. The tolls are showing up on my online account. For the first encounter, I drove through a cash lane. The barrier lifted to confirm the transponder was recognized.

My son then used it today on an in and out trip to Chicago from Detroit.

I went to JoAnn Fabrics and bought a set of self-adhesive Velcro buttons for $3.99. They will be enough for about six rental car encounters, to attach the transponder to the windshield. I will be using the transponder again in PA / DE next week.

IMO, the Illinois I-Pass transponder is a very good solution. They are quite happy to have out of state customers (Mass does not) and you only pay when you use it. No minimum or monthly fees.

L.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by tibbitts » Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:02 am

It would be nice if there were a universal system throughout the US, but clearly there is not, and probably won't be, which is annoying.

As for using a transponder from your own vehicle in a rental car, for me I'd put the odds of leaving the transponder in the rental car at about as close to a sure thing as possible.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by marstaton4 » Sun Apr 05, 2015 5:18 am

I live in SC but just recently signed up for an EZ Pass in Mass. They don't have any fees or charge for transponders.

I think some of the EZ Pass discounts are specific to which state you purchase the pass from. Different states have different fees, some monthly, some usage based and so on.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Sun Apr 05, 2015 11:45 am

To get an MA transponder, you have to be in MA. You can get an IL transponder by mail. They have a $10 "deposit", but no periodic fees.

I keep my transponder in a small zipper bag (lined with aluminum foil) when not using it. When I mount it in a rental car, the bag sits on the back seat. This is a clear reminder to get the transponder when I get my stuff out of the car.

(I actually have a laundry list of stuff to get: Phone charger, GPS, transponder, so it's become less likely I'll forget one of them.)

L.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by deanbrew » Sun Apr 05, 2015 4:04 pm

Leeraar wrote:To get an MA transponder, you have to be in MA.
.
You didn't when I got mine from Massachusetts. I got it from there instead of my state (PA) because I could get it for no upfront or annual cost. I don't know about current rules.
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by marstaton4 » Sun Apr 05, 2015 4:13 pm

Leeraar wrote:To get an MA transponder, you have to be in MA.
I live in SC, and used a SC address for shipping. My EZPass transponder is linked to my SC plate as well. They also don't have any fee for the transponders.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by ThisTimeItsDifferent » Sun Apr 05, 2015 5:49 pm

I know the OP posted months ago so the original question is moot, but Houston/Harris County has two kinds of toll roads: roads operated by TxDOT and roads operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority. They both support the hctra ez tags that attach to the windshield and cannot be moved to new cars. HCTRA also allows one to link another vehicle's plate to an ez tag account for up to 45 days at a time and use the eztag only lanes and roads but charges the higher cash price. That's called ez plate. However. TXDoT roads do not support ez plate, only ez tag, but they don't say that anywhere.

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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Sun Apr 05, 2015 6:00 pm

ThisTimeItsDifferent wrote:I know the OP posted months ago so the original question is moot, but Houston/Harris County has two kinds of toll roads: roads operated by TxDOT and roads operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority. They both support the hctra ez tags that attach to the windshield and cannot be moved to new cars. HCTRA also allows one to link another vehicle's plate to an ez tag account for up to 45 days at a time and use the eztag only lanes and roads but charges the higher cash price. That's called ez plate. However. TXDoT roads do not support ez plate, only ez tag, but they don't say that anywhere.
Thank you. It's not moot since my Houston project has been delayed and will only start in May. My host has recommended that I pay tolls in Texas via the car rental company.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

etarini
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by etarini » Sun Apr 05, 2015 7:24 pm

When I got my first MA EZ-Pass transponder in 1999 (it was called FastLane back then), it cost $47.50. Since then, it's become free (at least for MA residents) and they'v been removing more and more staffed toll booths - now the Tobin Bridge into Boston has no humans manning the booths. To encourage EZ-Pass use, the tolls are cheaper than cash, even where cash is an option.

We can log into our (MA) EZ-PASS account and put in a rental car plate (don't forget to remove it afterward!), and we've done that successfully many times. They can tell where your transponder went and when.

We visit Chicago at least once a year to visit family, and what's most annoying to me is that there's an unmanned toll both when you're returning to O'Hare Airport that only accepts exact change. There's another manned toll booth a couple of exits north of there that we always encounter, and I keep expecting them to switch over, too. We check the those tolls online each year before we visit, and we always bring a bag of quarters and other change for those two spots.

Before we got our most recent car, we frequently rented a car for trips from Boston to the Philadelphia area or Carlisle,PA area, and we'd use our temporarily registered EZ-PASS transponder throughout MA, NY, NJ, and PA. It's great not having to wait in long lines going over the Tappan Zee Bridge.

I think platepass is a rip-off. Unless they've changed their rules, there's a daily convenience fee (I think it was $2.50) and you have to accept it for the entire duration of the rental. Also, if you are planning to use your own EZ-PASS, if your car has platepass installed, make sure the PLATEPASS isn't turned on, or you'll be charged for it. Some of the places we visit where we incur EZ-PASS charges, we only incur tolls on the first and the last days of our visit, so platepass is a rip-off for us, since it can be several times what the actual tolls themselves are.

Eric

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Leeraar
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Sun Apr 05, 2015 8:09 pm

etarini wrote:When I got my first MA EZ-Pass transponder in 1999 (it was called FastLane back then), it cost $47.50. Since then, it's become free (at least for MA residents) and they'v been removing more and more staffed toll booths - now the Tobin Bridge into Boston has no humans manning the booths. To encourage EZ-Pass use, the tolls are cheaper than cash, even where cash is an option.

We can log into our (MA) EZ-PASS account and put in a rental car plate (don't forget to remove it afterward!), and we've done that successfully many times. They can tell where your transponder went and when.

We visit Chicago at least once a year to visit family, and what's most annoying to me is that there's an unmanned toll both when you're returning to O'Hare Airport that only accepts exact change. There's another manned toll booth a couple of exits north of there that we always encounter, and I keep expecting them to switch over, too. We check the those tolls online each year before we visit, and we always bring a bag of quarters and other change for those two spots.

Before we got our most recent car, we frequently rented a car for trips from Boston to the Philadelphia area or Carlisle,PA area, and we'd use our temporarily registered EZ-PASS transponder throughout MA, NY, NJ, and PA. It's great not having to wait in long lines going over the Tappan Zee Bridge.

I think platepass is a rip-off. Unless they've changed their rules, there's a daily convenience fee (I think it was $2.50) and you have to accept it for the entire duration of the rental. Also, if you are planning to use your own EZ-PASS, if your car has platepass installed, make sure the PLATEPASS isn't turned on, or you'll be charged for it. Some of the places we visit where we incur EZ-PASS charges, we only incur tolls on the first and the last days of our visit, so platepass is a rip-off for us, since it can be several times what the actual tolls themselves are.

Eric
A few points:

Your EZ-Pass transponder will work in Chicago / Illinois, so just bring it along. It will also work in Ohio and Indiana. In Illinois, they call it I-Pass. In Illinois, cash tolls are twice as much as transponder tolls.

You will need to get additional mounting thingys. You can buy them at toll road service areas or at office supply stores. In Illinois they give them away at any attended toll booth. I got Velcro tabs at JoAnn Fabrics.

DO NOT register rental car plates to your transponder. Just mount the transponder in the rental car and go. If you are not sure about this, drive through a cash lane. It should recognize the transponder and raise the boom without you having to actually pay cash. If you are still not sure, check your toll billing online during your trip.

The reason for this is that you may be charged for tolls outside your rental period. If a toll is not paid, they photograph the plate and send a bill. If you told them the plate is yours ... If you miss a toll, they will bill the rental company, who will then bill you. That can get messy. So, mount the transponder and take it through a cash lane at the earliest opportunity to verify it is working properly. You are then good to go.

For infrequent users, MA has the best deal, but I could not figure out how to buy a transponder from them without visiting. I am in MI. The next best deal is Illinois, and they mailed me a transponder in a few days. There is a $10 "deposit". Many states charge a low use or monthly fee - stay away from those.

I had not heard of PlatePass, but yes, it does look like a royal ripoff.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

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deanbrew
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by deanbrew » Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:52 am

DO NOT register rental car plates to your transponder. Just mount the transponder in the rental car and go.
We have two MA EZ-pass transponders in our family, and use them in four cars, and my wife has taken one on vacation to use in a friend's car. We never bother making any changes to the registration and they always seem to work. I would use one in a rental car without doing anything else. I suppose there might be a problem if the transponder wasn't recognized and the transaction didn't complete as usual.
"The course of history shows that as the government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

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Leeraar
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by Leeraar » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:18 am

deanbrew wrote:
DO NOT register rental car plates to your transponder. Just mount the transponder in the rental car and go.
We have two MA EZ-pass transponders in our family, and use them in four cars, and my wife has taken one on vacation to use in a friend's car. We never bother making any changes to the registration and they always seem to work. I would use one in a rental car without doing anything else. I suppose there might be a problem if the transponder wasn't recognized and the transaction didn't complete as usual.
What happens then is the toll authority will bill the rental car company, who will figure out you were renting that car at that time. Then, two things may happen:

1. The rental car company tells you to deal with it and to pay the toll authority.

2. The rental car company pays the bill, and then bills you, including all sorts of other "convenience" charges.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

barnaclebob
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by barnaclebob » Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:19 am

Leeraar wrote: What happens then is the toll authority will bill the rental car company, who will figure out you were renting that car at that time. Then, two things may happen:

1. The rental car company tells you to deal with it and to pay the toll authority.

2. The rental car company pays the bill, and then bills you, including all sorts of other "convenience" charges.

L.
3. The rental car company doesn't pay the bill but still charges you anyway plus the convenience charge. They do this with parking tickets. I think I read an article about enterprise owing millions in parking tickets.

ThisTimeItsDifferent
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Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Post by ThisTimeItsDifferent » Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:46 am

Leeraar wrote:
ThisTimeItsDifferent wrote:I know the OP posted months ago so the original question is moot, but Houston/Harris County has two kinds of toll roads: roads operated by TxDOT and roads operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority. They both support the hctra ez tags that attach to the windshield and cannot be moved to new cars. HCTRA also allows one to link another vehicle's plate to an ez tag account for up to 45 days at a time and use the eztag only lanes and roads but charges the higher cash price. That's called ez plate. However. TXDoT roads do not support ez plate, only ez tag, but they don't say that anywhere.
Thank you. It's not moot since my Houston project has been delayed and will only start in May. My host has recommended that I pay tolls in Texas via the car rental company.

L.
The Houston/Harris County toll roads don't clearly indicate whether they are HCTRA or TXDOT roads, and the HCTRA roads do NOT say "EZTAG/EZPLATE only" but rather "EZTAG only" even though they accept both. So if you have EZPLATE you just have to know whether the road is HCTRA or TXDOT.

Some HCTRA roads and some TxDOT roads do not have "cash options", i.e. are only EZTAG/EXPLATE for HCTRA or only EZTAG for TXDOT (Westpark tollway and Grand Parkway 99 respectively). Beltway 8 and most ramps for it have a cash option. Also, some roads have no parallel non-toll feeder roads (99). The toll roads usually have signs saying exiting traffic must pay tolls, but they are not always obvious or clear and sometimes it's too late to exit when you see them.

There's no EZPLATE option separate from an EZTAG account. As far as HCTRA is concerned using an EZPLATE associated with an EZTAG account just charges the modestly higher cash price (~$0.25 per toll) but no extra fee. I don't know how much extra car rental companies charge or whether they have EZTAG or EZPLATE. If you don't have EZTAG (or EZPLATE for HCTRA roads) and go through an EZTAG lane, there's a $5-$25 charge per toll.

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