Willing to pay another $1 per month for each Virginia E-ZPass transponder?

The states in purple accept the E-ZPass transponder, which is headed for a $1 per month, per transponder fee increase. CREDIT: Virginia Department of Transportation

May 31, 2012 — In case you missed it, comments are being accepted through 5 p.m, Tuesday, June 12, 2012 by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to add a $1 fee every month for each E-ZPass transponder to help pay for a “new business model”, according to VDOT.

Below is the text of the email (emphasis added) that circulated recently seeking comments, which can be emailed to vdotinfo@vdot.virginia.gov.

“With Virginia’s E-ZPass program doubling over the next several years as new toll roads open, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is proposing a monthly fee of about $1 per transponder to pay for administrative and operations costs.

“VDOT has the utmost understanding that E-ZPass operations brings convenience and efficiency to toll operations.  E-ZPass allows for electronic toll collection at Virginia toll facilities and lessens the need for manual collection. However, there is a cost to providing the service to the participating toll facilities, most of which are not operated by VDOT.

“The Virginia E-ZPass program is being expanded to support several new toll facilities scheduled or expected to be opened over the next few years.  The cost associated with the enhanced distribution and specialized services for the new facilities and additional transponders requires a new business model.

The proposed monthly fee would cover costs for:

•    Buying nearly one-half million transponders

•    Implementing a retail program where transponders can be obtained at various stores in Northern Virginia and eventually Hampton Roads

•    Providing service at select DMV locations

•    Upgrading information technology to accommodate the expanded program

•    Account management and processing of toll transactions (managing billing of all transactions)

•    Customer service and the operations of three customer service centers

The fee would also help control costs and manage the selection and demand for E-ZPass transponders.  My clients who drive the Dulles corridor frequently hope the fee will be regularly evaluated to ensure that the charge is generating just enough revenue to maintain and operate the program without generating excess revenues above expenses.

“VDOT is accepting comments on the proposed monthly fee through Tuesday, 5 p.m., June 12, 2012.  All comments will be reviewed and taken into consideration prior to the final decision on the proposed fee structure.

“You can go to www.virginiadot.org/e-zpass for information on the proposed monthly fee increase and provide their comments online.  You can submit your comments directly to vdotinfo@vdot.virginia.gov or mail them to:

“Office Communications – Third Floor/Annex Bldg. Virginia Department of Transportation 1401 E. Broad St. Richmond, VA 23219.”

VDOT expects to have a final decision in June.