Where to buy E-ZPass and how to use it

Avoid traffic at tolls with E-ZPass — Photo courtesy of iStock / Darwel

Approaching toll booths and paying the ticketed amount can mean added travel time, inconvenience and the necessity of traveling with small amounts of cash at all times. The introduction of E-ZPass across many states offers anyone traveling the roads a better way to pay and keep their travel time to a minimum with less interruptions for toll payment.

Understanding and implementing the process is quick and easy, and it may be just the thing to simplify your road trips, whether they be short or long, frequent or not that often. Is E-ZPass the option that works best for you? Here’s what you need to know to see if this electronic option will make your trips easier.

Understanding E-ZPass

E-ZPass is a method of paying road, bridge and tunnel tolls faster, easier and more efficiently. This multi-state electronic toll pass system eliminates the need to stop to pay fees while traveling toll roads. Instead of toll booths, the system works via overhead readers that pick up account information and charge your fee via a transponder mounted on your windshield.

It offers an easy, speedy, touchless way to handle tolls, and eliminates the need to get and keep track of a ticket, the time to stop to pay the amount due, as well as the hassle of finding the correct amount of money due. The system translates the steps to an electronic transaction and streamlines the entire travel toll process.

As an additional bonus, the transponders also work to provide traffic data. Readers provide information on the speed and flow of traffic so that traffic reports can be accurate. They do not work to track individual speeders but help to inform traffic reporters of congestion on roads, travel time, slowdowns and the like.

The concept of E-ZPass was introduced in 1987, and its goal was to unite several states’ toll collection systems into one. The current setup now includes 19 states and is the largest, most successful interoperable toll collection program anywhere in the world.

Where E-ZPass can be used

E-ZPass works in states from Florida up to Maine and west to Illinois. It’s good on toll roads, bridges and tunnels. More than 49 million E-ZPass devices are currently in circulation. Once you’ve received a transponder, simply adhere it to the windshield of your vehicle and, when passing through an E-ZPass-labeled toll center, observe as the reader detects and processes your toll due and sends you on your way.

Signs in states and gateways that participate will indicate appropriate lanes to be in to use the system, and then simply following the directions once you’re there will allow you to pass through quickly and easily. The toll amount will be deducted from your E-ZPass account (usually secured with a credit card or paid on a toll-by-toll basis). Should you want to see your charges at any times, you may log into your account and view them, update your payment information or a variety of other options.

How to get E-ZPass

Each participating state operates its own E-ZPass service center. You’ll want to decide if a personal or commercial account is best for your situation. E-ZPasses may be obtained by visiting the correct state’s E-ZPass website and applying via their online form. You may also print out the forms and apply by mail or fax. You may include up to four tags under each account.

Users receive their transponders typically within a few days to a week and can begin travel at that point. Additionally, E-ZPass Go Paks can be purchased locally for a small convenience fee, so you’re up and running faster. Merchants like Walmart, AAA and area supermarkets often carry them, making the process one that’s easily added to your daily to-do list and gets you out on the road in no time.

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