Are you sharing an I-PASS? Tollway might penalize you if it's missing

Are there more cars than I-PASS transponders in your household? You might face additional charges when driving through toll plazas without one.

Illinois tollway directors Monday postponed voting on a staff plan to impose a 50 percent transaction fee on I-PASS account holders who incur tolls without transponders in their vehicles.

That could mean a 40-cent penalty on an 80-cent toll, for example, which would help cover costs of tracking down customers sans transponders, officials said. It would take 10 missed tolls a month per license plate to trigger the fee.

Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said the agency “needed to be very thoughtful” before implementing the policy at a Customer Service and Planning Committee meeting. He asked for a detailed report next month on missed tolls that considers ideas such as a shift to electronic tolling systemwide and the possibility of distributing transponders statewide.

Directors also delayed voting on a recommendation to crack down on delinquent I-PASS account holders by giving collection agencies more authority to settle cases or go to court.

The agency currently uses video footage of missed tolls to match license plates with I-PASS holders and then charges the amount owed to a person's account.

Because of that practice, many “people think it's perfectly fine to buy one transponder for the whole house,” Director and Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson said.

“To come out and say, ‘By the way, you need to get a transponder in your car and if you don't — boom — we're going to fine you,' I don't think that's right.”

Instead, the agency should point out it will reduce costs if everyone has a transponder, Johnson said. “You want to get the public on your side.”

If the penalty were approved, staff members advised a six-month education blitz before enacting it to inform I-PASS customers and allow them to obtain transponders. It takes $30 to open an I-PASS account: $10 for a refundable deposit and $20 in prepaid tolls.

Another suggestion was offering a $10 credit offsetting the transponder deposit fee to encourage people to opt in.

The fees could generate $15 million a year, finance chief Mike Colsh calculated, and is equivalent to the cost of cross-checking license plates and I-PASS accounts.

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