No more passing the cash as tollway makes all-electronic system permanent

The Illinois tollway will permanently shift to an entirely electronic system without cash payments after 11 months of operating with automatic collections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-March 2020, the tollway suspended manual toll payments and shifted to entirely electronic payments to prevent spread of the virus. At the time, early in the pandemic, the change was temporary.

Officials noted Thursday that more than 92% of transactions occur with I-PASS transponders used by Illinoisans and E-ZPass transponders owned by out-of-state travelers.

To aid drivers with limited funds, the agency is rolling out a new I-PASS assist program in May that will waive deposits on transponders.

"With steps to ensure equity for those who use our system, this spring, customers will begin to see permanent changes at toll plazas systemwide - changes made to ensure customers are able to safely and confidently navigate our toll plazas that will all but put cash toll collection behind us," tollway Executive Director José Alvarez said in a statement.

For drivers who miss tolls, a 14-day grace period is offered, allowing payments to be made online without penalties that include a $3 fee per unpaid toll. The tollway offers a Pay by Plate online option where customers can enter their license plate number and days of travel.

The agency also announced Thursday it is working on reopening in-person customer service centers and plans to increase call center workers.

"All toll services personnel, including money truck drivers, toll cash audit services and toll collectors, have been presented with opportunities to stay with the agency," officials said.

The I-PASS Assist Program will also provide $20 for tolls on accounts for applicants who meet federal poverty guidelines. To learn more, go to illinoistollway.

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