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E-ZPass is an electronic toll-collection system used on most tolled roads, bridges, and tunnels in the northeastern United Statesmarker, south to Virginia and West Virginia, and west to Chicago. Currently, there are 25 agencies spread across 14 states that make up the E-ZPass Interagency Group (IAG). All member agencies use the same technology, allowing travelers to use the same E-ZPass transponder throughout the IAG network. Various independent systems that use the same technology have been integrated into the E-ZPass system. These include Fast Lane in Massachusettsmarker, I-Pass in Illinoismarker, i-Zoom in Indianamarker, and the defunct M-Tag in Marylandmarker and Smart Tag in Virginiamarker.


Within the IAG, each member agency has its own billing and customer service center; all customer service centers are connected by a secure network (the "reciprocity network"). The agencies also set their own customer account policies. Areas of variation include the refundable deposit or nonrefundable charge for a tag, periodic maintenance fees, paper statement fees, the low account threshold, and replenishment amounts. E-ZPass is usually offered as a debit account: tolls are deducted from prepayments made by the users. Users may opt to have prepayments automatically deposited when their account is low, or they may submit prepayments manually. For commercial accounts, some agencies allow postpaid plans with a security deposit (which effectively renders them much like prepaid accounts with a different replenishment policy).

Several agencies offer discounted tolls to E-ZPass customers. The details vary widely, and can include general discounts for all E-ZPass users, variable pricing discounts for off-peak hours, commuter plans with minimum usage levels, flat rate plans offering unlimited use for a period of time, carpool plans for high-occupancy vehicles, and resident plans for those living near particular toll facilities. Many of these plans are only available to customers whose tags are issued by the agency that owns the toll facility in question. (Reciprocity only applies to tag acceptance, not to discounts.) Three authorities in New England (Maine, the Massachusetts Turnpike, and New Hampshire) restrict even their general discounts to their own respective tagholders.

E-ZPass tags are battery powered RFID transponders, made exclusively by Mark IV Industries Corp - IVHS Division. They communicate with reader equipment built into lane-based or open road toll collection lanes. The most common type of tag is mounted on the inside of the vehicle's windshield behind the rear-view mirror, usually with 3M's DualLock brand of hook and lock strips (known to most consumers by the trademark Velcro) to allow easy removal. Some vehicles have windshields that block RFID signals. For those vehicles (or customers who have aesthetic concerns or historical vehicles), an externally-mountable tag is offered, typically designed to attach to the vehicle's front or rear license plate mounting points. Some third-party vendors offer alternative means of attaching a transponder pack without using locking tape (such as the use of a container attached to the windshield by a suction cup or or a cloth bag which might hang from the rear-view mirror pillar), though the locking tape is the only method toll agencies endorse for attaching a tag to the windshield.

Although a tag can be used with a motorcycle also, there are usually no official instructions given for mounting due to the numerous variations between bike designs and the small area of a motorcycle windshield which could prove a hindrance if the transponder is attached following automobile instructions.

Most E-ZPass lanes are converted manual toll lanes and must have fairly low speed limits for safety reasons (5 and 15 mph are typical), so that E-ZPass vehicles can merge safely with vehicles that stopped to pay a cash toll and, in some cases, to allow toll workers to safely cross the E-ZPass lanes to reach booths accepting cash payments. In some areas, however (typically recently built or retrofitted facilities), there is no need to slow down, because E-ZPass users can utilize dedicated traffic lanes ("Express E-ZPass") that are physically separate from the toll-booth lanes. (Examples include Delaware Route 1, Virginia's Pocahontas Parkway, the express lanes of the Atlantic City Expressway and Garden State Parkway, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Warrendale and Mid-County (I-476) toll plazas as well as on new sections of the Mon/Fayette Expressway.) In October 2006, Illinoismarker completed its open road tolling for IPass/E-ZPass users. Pennsylvaniamarker is planning on using open-road tolling if they convert Interstate 80 into a toll road.

Each E-ZPass tag is specifically programmed for a particular class of vehicle, and while any valid, working tag will be read and accepted in any E-ZPass toll lane, the wrong toll amount will be charged if the tag's programmed vehicle class does not match the vehicle. This will result in a violation and possible large fine assessed to the tag holder, especially if a lower-class (e.g., passenger car) tag is being used in a higher-class vehicle such as a bus or truck. In an attempt to avoid this, E-ZPass tags for commercial vehicles are blue in color, contrasting with the white tags assigned to standard passenger vehicles. The blue E-ZPass is also used in government employee vehicles. In New York, an orange E-ZPass tag is issued to emergency vehicles as well as MTA, PANYNJ, and Thruway Authority employees.

Some agencies have imposed periodic account maintenance fees on their subscribers. After New Jersey began losing money with the E-ZPass system, a monthly account fee of $1.00 was implemented on July 15, 2002 and is still in effect. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also charges a monthly account fee of $1.00. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority imposed a monthly account fee starting on July 1, 2005 claiming to defray the administrative costs. However, as such a fee was considered to threaten the efficiency of moving traffic faster with lower tolls, New York State Republican Senator Michael Balboni sponsored Bill S06331 to prohibit administrative service fees on E-ZPass accounts. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority repealed the monthly account fee on June 1, 2006. On July 1, 2009, the Maryland Transportation Authority will begin charging $1.50/month fees to accountholders.

Some agencies, instead of charging periodic account fees, charge a one-time fee between $20.00 and $30.00 for each new transponder, including the Delaware Department of Transportation and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. One agency, the Delaware River and Bay Authority, is now charging multiple fees. In a press release dated July 17, 2007, the DRBA stated: "Beginning January 1, 2008, all DRBA E-ZPass account holders will be charged an account management fee of $1.50 per month. The transponder cost will also be passed on to E-ZPass customers for each new transponder."

Some agencies that do not charge a monthly account fee or an initial fee for the transponder include the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authoritymarker. The Illinois I-PASS system does charge a $10 deposit for each transponder. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission charges an annual account fee of $3.00. However, PTC transponders are free and there are no other fees. E-ZPass users are not required to maintain their account with an agency in their home state. Subscribers can open an E-ZPass account with any member of the IAG regardless of residency. This means that users have the option of choosing an agency based on the fees that it charges, effectively allowing them to circumvent transponder and account maintenance fees.

E-ZPass On-The-Go

E-ZPass On-The-Go is a packaged E-ZPass transponder loaded with $25 in toll funds sold over-the-counter at a retail setting (such as a supermarket or pharmacy service desk) that are valid immediately. The first $15 is available instantly; customers can access their remaining $10 when they register their transponders with the issuing E-ZPass agency within several days of first using their tags.

On-The-Go tags are available at retail locations. The On-The-Go package is unavailable in both Indiana and Illinois as both states require activation before use of their transponders.


The notion of electronic tolling had been considered as early as the 1980s, particularly in the New York metropolitan areamarker. The tolling agencies of New Yorkmarker, New Jerseymarker, and Pennsylvaniamarker—which constitute two-thirds of the United States' $3 billion-a-year toll industry—sought to create a compatible electronic-tolling technology that could be used on the toll roads and bridges of the three states, in an effort to reduce congestion on some of the busiest roadways and toll plazas in the United States. In 1991, the E-ZPass IAG was created to develop an interoperable system, and involved the participation and cooperation of seven independent toll agencies—The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, The New Jersey Highway Authority (operator of the Garden State Parkway at the time), the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York State Thruway Authority, The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and the South Jersey Transportation Authority (operator of the Atlantic City Expressway). The E-ZPass trademark, however, belongs to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Port Authority has been aggressive at protecting its trademark, including forcing the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to rename the "EZ Pass" regional transit pass to "EZ transit pass" to protect its rights.

Under the direction of Peter Tufo, chairman of the New York State Thruway from 1989-1996, E-ZPass was first deployed on the Thruway at the Spring Valley toll plaza on August 3, 1993. Over the following three and a half years, the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) installed electronic toll-collection equipment, in stages, along the Thruway. By February 6, 1997, E-ZPass had been installed along the entire length of the corridor.

On October 6, 1998, a U.S. Patent for an "automated toll collection system" was issued to Fred Slavin and Randy J. Schafer.

Meanwhile, various other agencies began work on similar electronic toll collecting facilities. This resulted in the emergence of other networks:
  • The MassPass system used in Massachusettsmarker, now changed to the compatible Fast Lane.
  • The I-Pass system used in Illinoismarker.
  • The Smart Tag system used in Virginiamarker, integrated in 2005 and rebranded E-ZPass in 2007.
  • The TransPass system used in Mainemarker, since replaced by the E-ZPass system.
  • The M-Tag system used in Marylandmarker, integrated into and rebranded E-ZPass in 2001.

Originally, these systems were not interchangeable with E-ZPass. However, since most of them use the same technology (or have since converted over to a compatible technology), all of them have been incorporated into the E-ZPass network. Though several still retain their own brand name for their own facilities, users of those systems can use E-ZPass and vice versa.

Until 2005, drivers crossing the Peace Bridgemarker between Fort Eriemarker, Ontariomarker, and Buffalo, New Yorkmarker, paid a toll before crossing to Canada. Following upgrades to the border crossings in 2005, drivers instead pay a toll on the Canadian side of the Peace Bridge after clearing Canadian customs. This is the only E-ZPass toll booth outside of the United States. The toll goes to the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, a bi-national agency that is charged to maintain the international bridge.

The E-ZPass system continues to expand. The Indiana Toll Road Concessions Corporation has upgraded its toll plazas to include E-ZPass functionality on the Indiana East-West Toll Road, while the Ohio Turnpike Commission has upgraded its toll plazas in October 2009 for the Ohio Turnpike (I-76, I-80, I-90). The Indiana Toll Road Concession Company brands its E-ZPass program as I-Zoom; Ohio will use the E-ZPass brand name. On December 16, 2008, Rhode Islandmarker joined the network by activating E-ZPass lanes in the state's only toll booth, at the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridgemarker.

E-ZPass ETC transponders do not work on all toll roads in the U.S. Currently, the E-ZPass electronic toll-collection system (as well as the other ETC systems that are part of the E-ZPass network) are not compatible with Florida systems (including SunPass and EPass), California's FasTrak, Kansas's K-Tag, Oklahoma's Pikepass, Texas's TxTag, or other ETC systems outside of the E-ZPass operating regions.

In 2009, an organization called the Alliance for Toll Interoperability stated that it was exploring the option of using hi-speed cameras to take photographs of the cars passing through non-E-ZPass lanes in other states.

E-ZPass Plus

For E-ZPass subscribers who replenish their accounts with a major credit card the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey offers an E-ZPass option to pay for parking at three Port Authority airportsJohn F. Kennedy International Airportmarker, LaGuardia Airportmarker and Newark Liberty International Airportmarker—through a program known as E-ZPass Plus. This program is also available at Albany International Airportmarker in Albany, New Yorkmarker, Syracuse Hancock International Airportmarker in Syracuse, New Yorkmarker and the Atlantic City International Airportmarker near Atlantic City, New Jerseymarker. It is also available for use at the New York Avenue Parking Garage in Atlantic City, New Jerseymarker and the Atlantic City Surface Lot in Atlantic City, New Jerseymarker.

The parking payment is debited from the prepaid E-ZPass account if the parking fee is less than $20. If it is more than $20, the amount is charged directly to the credit card used to replenish the E-ZPass account.

The Port Authority reports that drivers save an average of 15 seconds by opting to pay for airport parking using E-ZPass.

Subscribers who replenish their E-ZPass accounts with cash or a check cannot participate in this program. Additionally, this service is only available to customers with one of the following E-ZPass accounts: New York (PANYNJ, MTA or NYS Thruway), New Jersey, Delaware DOT, Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, Delaware River and Bay Authority, Maryland, or the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (as of 11/1/09).

Other non-toll uses for E-ZPass

Although not part of the EZPass-Plus promotion, E-ZPass users may also pay for parking at Pittsburgh International Airportmarker. The E-ZPass transponder is used for identification only.

E-ZPass was tested by some McDonald's restaurants on Long Islandmarker, New Yorkmarker, at which drive-through customers were given the option to pay using their E-ZPass accounts. This program has ended .

The New York State Fair offered E-ZPass Plus as a payment option at two of its parking lots for the first time in 2007, and offered the service again for the 2008 season. The service was administered by the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA), and motorists' E-ZPass accounts were charged the same $5 parking fee that cash customers were charged. Unlike other E-ZPass Plus implementations, the State Fair systems charged motorists at the parking lot entrances; drivers opting to pay by E-ZPass Plus used dedicated "E-ZPass Plus Only" lanes. Since the parking lots are only in use for the twelve days of the State Fair, mobile, self-contained E-ZPass units were used to process vehicles. The units were mounted on trailers with a collapsible gantry for the E-ZPass antennas, used a cellular wireless connection to send transactions to the NYSTA backoffice system, and were powered by batteries that were kept replenished by photovoltaic solar panels, with a generator for backup.

Technology details

The EZ-Pass transponder works by listening for a signal broadcast by the reader stationed at the toll booth. This 915 MHz signal is sent at 500kbps using the IAG protocol in 256-bit packets. Transponders use active Type II read/write technology. This system is proprietary to Mark IV Industries.

The next generation of automated toll collection systems will be more open and likely to based on the 802.11p specification currently in development.

Privacy concerns

Civil liberties and privacy rights advocates have expressed concern about how the position data gathered through E-ZPass is used. As of August 2007, several states that employ E-ZPass have provided electronic toll information in response to court orders in civil cases, including divorces and other non-criminal matters.

Massachusetts fastlane data was also used in a Boston criminal case (South Boston BMC), as evidence presented by a defendant that he was not at the scene of a robbery of plasma televisions from the Boston Design Center, in which his involvement was alleged.

Position data is collected by antennae at locations in addition to fee collection locations. The Port Authority of NY & NJ collects transponder information as vehicles pass under the signs in New Jersey that state, "xx minutes to the Cross Bronx Expressway (CBE)," and in New York City as vehicles reach the CBE. By subtracting the time when vehicles pass under the first sign from the current time, the sign can display the actual trip duration for vehicles just entering the CBE.

Account fees by agency

A potential subscriber may establish an account with any IAG member agency regardless of residency.Some E-ZPass agencies charge various fees.
E-ZPass agency Initial fee for each tag Periodic account maintenance fee Minimum balance to establish account Deposit held on each tag Notes Monthly Statement by mail, annual fee
Delaware Department of Transportation $25 None $25 $10
Delaware River and Bay Authority (Delaware/New Jersey) $21 $1.50 per month $25 None The DRBA is one of the two E-ZPass agencies that charge both an initial fee for the tag and an account maintenance fee. The Maryland Transportation Authority, which began charging both fees on July 1, 2009, is the other.
Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (Pennsylvania/New Jersey) None $1 per month $25 $10 If automatic replenishment by means of credit/debit card is chosen, tag deposit is waived.
Illinois State Toll Highway Authoritymarker I-Pass Program $2.90 (see note) None $40 $10 No initial fee if purchased through the state or Road Ranger stores; transponders purchased through Jewel-Osco supermarkets have a $2.90 convenience fee applied by Jewel-Osco.
Indiana East-West Toll Road I-Zoom Program $7 s/h or $2 (see note) $1 per month/transponder (see note) $10 $0 While there is no charge for the tag itself, the I-Zoom program does charge a shipping fee of $7 for each new tag sent to the customer via mail if ordered via the Indiana Toll Road's website or through the phone. Tags purchased at CVS/pharmacy locations in Northern Indiana and Toll Road travel plazas are sold with a lesser $2 convenience fee and a $8 starting toll balance. When combined with the $0 deposit, retail tags are thus sold for $10. The monthly maintenance fee is waived if the primary form of payment is electronic funds transfer from a checking account instead of a credit/debit card. $1 per monthly statement
$1 per quarterly statement
Maine Turnpike Authority $25 None $20 None
Maryland Transportation Authority $21 $1.50/month per account $25 $10 If automatic replenishment by means of credit/debit card is chosen, tag deposit is waived. A $1.50 monthly fee and an initial charge of $21–40 per tag has been adopted, effective July 1, 2009.
Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Fast Lane Program None None per site $20 None All Fast Lane tag holders are charged discounted tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike, the Tobin Bridge, the Sumner Tunnelmarker, and the Ted Williams Tunnelmarker. Since the Massachusetts Turnpike charges no toll for passenger cars between the New York state line and exit 6, residents of Western Massachusetts previously had the option to obtain a special no toll Fast Lane tag, identifiable by its orange color. Orange transponders could not be used east of exit 6 or at other E-ZPass facilities. These transponders are still in use today, but are being phased out as they approach the end of their service life. Replacement with a standard transponder is required. $2 monthly for private vehicles, $5 monthly for commercial vehicles.
New Hampshire Department of Transportation $20.95 None $30 None NH EZPass tags are allowed a 30% discount on all NH tolls.
New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center None $1 per month $25 $10 If automatic replenishment by means of credit/debit card is chosen, tag deposit is waived. $1.00 bi-monthly mail/email statement fee
New York State Thruway Authority None None $25 $10 If automatic replenishment by means of credit/debit card is chosen, tag deposit is waived. $6
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey None The E-ZPass programs of the NYS Thruway, TBTA and PANYNJ are all administered by the New York Customer Service Center. Customers are issued a pass from the one of the agencies based on their address entered during the application process. Tags associated with the PANYNJ are assessed a monthly account fee of $1. $25 $10 If automatic replenishment by means of credit/debit card is chosen, tag deposit is waived. $6
Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (MTA Bridges and Tunnels) None None $25 $10 If automatic replenishment by means of credit/debit card is chosen, tag deposit is waived. $6
Ohio Turnpike Commission $3 s/h $.75 per month $25 $10 When account balance drops below a cumulative balance of $10 per transponder, the account will be replenished with a charge to the Customer's designated credit card the amount of: a) the average monthly tolls incurred over the past 90 days; or b) the amount needed to return the account balance to $25 per transponder, whichever is greater. $1/mo per transponder
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission None $3 per year $35 $25 If automatic replenishment by means of credit/debit card is chosen, tag deposit is waived. $4
Peace Bridge Authority (New York/Ontario) None None $25 $10 If automatic replenishment by means of credit/debit card is chosen, tag deposit is waived. A disclaimer on the enrollment page notes that subscribers who don't use the Peace Bridge for extended periods may have their accounts deactivated and encourages those who live outside the area to enroll with an authority closer to them. As of September 30, 2009, the Peace Bridge Authority will not create an account for individuals who do not have residency in New York or Canada.
Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authoritymarker $20.95 for each None $25 None Rhode Island residents will be eligible for discounted tolls at the Pell Bridgemarker. In order to receive the discount, residents will be required to establish a Rhode Island E-ZPass account in person or by mail. To prove residency for purposes of the discount program, subscribers will be required to show a utility bill, tax bill, in-state college I.D., or some other documentation indicating a Rhode Island address.
Virginia Department of Transportation None None $35 $25 Minimum balance required is per transponder, not per account. The Virginia DOT discourages non-Virginia residents from joining its program. If automatic replenishment by means of ACH bank transfer is chosen, tag deposit is waived.
West Virginia Turnpike None None $25 $10 When setting up a new account, subscribers must choose a quarterly or annual plan in which they will use the West Virginia Turnpike through some or all of the toll plazas. After paying for the plan in advance, subscribers may then use the Turnpike through the chosen plazas on an unlimited basis. If subscribers intend to use E-ZPass toll facilities outside of West Virginia they must establish an additional balance of at least $20 to pay for tolls incurred on foreign facilities.

List of E-ZPass agencies

The following agencies accept E-ZPass at their toll facilities:

List of roadways, bridges, tunnels, & airports that accept E-ZPass

The following tolled roads, bridges, tunnels, and airports accept E-ZPass.


United States

See also


External links

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