Certain Windshields Block Toll Transponders
Consumer Reports says various new cars make E-ZPass and other readers inoperable.
As a journalist shuffling in and out of various test cars, it's a problem I thought was happening only to me, and for no reason at all. Fearful I'd be caught as a toll evader, I'd wave my Massachusetts Fast Lane transponder out the window -- even in the pouring, freezing rain -- just to get a reading.
But it turns out it's a problem for any driver of those vehicles, along with various GM, Ford and BMW models, according to a post today by Consumer Reports. The culprit: vehicles with infrared-blocking windshields that shut out sun rays, and also the signals used by state toll lanes.
"We ask people to keep us informed about what they're driving and what their license plate is," Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, told Exhaust Notes. "In the meantime, we are trying to actively figure out which vehicles have some aspect that might be a hindrance to properly reading the transponder."
Verseckes says that the agency doesn't have a complete list of vehicles that don't work with the tolls, but that it will provide license-plate-mounted transponders at no extra cost when necessary. But even if that fails, you won't get fined so long as your plate matches the one on record, he said.
That's the only solution aside from sticking your transponder out the window (and hopefully not dropping it, as I've almost done a few times). In Pennsylvania and other states that use the similar E-ZPass system along the East Coast, plate-mounted units are also available. Verseckes said the agency has no plans to change the technology and deals with these issues on a case-by-case basis.
Of course, a fixed plate transponder doesn't help the MSN Autos staff when we're driving borrowed Range Rovers for just a few days. So when you're headed through a toll plaza and the weather's lousy, please, feel sorry for us.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
On top of those savings, imagine how much more each state would save by eliminating the EZ-Pass/Fast Lane transponders and all the information technology staff and infrastructure required to run those systems? Each state would save tens....maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars a year. That's why a government bureaucrat like Verseckes won't recommend it. It's all about his own job security, not looking out for the taxpayers or road warriors. Besides, collecting all the revenue via the gas tax is a lot fairer because it doesn't penalize just the people that are unfortunate enough to be stuck using the toll roads during their daily commutes. The gas tax costs the people that drive more and that drive the least fuel efficient vehicles more than people with frugal cars and those that use the roads less. That may not be a perfect system, but it is better than what we have today.
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