When will we go cashless on the Turnpike?

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From Bob Poole is an update on all the toll roads migrating to cashless payments:

The conversion of toll roads to all-electronic/no-cash tolling seems to be accelerating. I’m drawing on several recent articles from Tollroadsnews.com for this update. Already operating on a cashless basis are the E-470 in Denver and the West Park in Houston (which has been cashless from its opening day).

The next big system to go completely cashless will be the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) in Dallas. It’s already converted two of its five toll facilities—the George Bush Turnpike and the Sam Rayburn Tollway. Its busiest toll road, the Dallas North Toll Road, will be converted during the fourth quarter this year, while its two smallest facilities (Mountain Creek Lake Bridge and Addison Airport Tunnel) will transition in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

In Florida, the first conversion to cashless tolling will be the 47-mile Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike (HEFT), which is the Miami area’s outer beltway. It plans to shut off cash collections by next spring. Customers will either use the SunPass transponders or will go with Pay-by-Plate video tolling. The nearby Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) is under way on a facility-by-facility conversion, with its first small toll road (SR 924) going cashless next month, and two others (SR 874 and SR 878) following in July. The Airport Expressway (SR 112) will convert in 2012 and the Dolphin Expressway (SR836) in 2013. The MDX conversion is more complex than most because it also involves converting from an open system (in which fewer than half of users encounter a toll plaza) to a closed system in which everyone must pay.

Further north in Florida, the Selmon Crosstown Expressway—Tampa’s only toll road—plans to go cashless in September. Its elevated reversible express lanes have been cashless since they opened several years ago; now the rest of the toll road will follow suit, junking rather than replacing its aging cash collection system.

Finally, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority is developing its first toll roads and bridges to be cashless from the start. Its signature project is the $1 billion Triangle Expressway now under construction on the western side of Raleigh. In deciding on its toll system, Turnpike officials took into account that their state sits between the large northeastern E-ZPass system (which is interoperable from Maine to Virginia and as far west as Chicago) and the large but different SunPass system in Florida. So it went out to bid for a system that could accommodate out-of-state transponders from both. NC Turnpike customers will have a choice between a low-cost (under $10) sticker tag and a $25 hard-case eZGo transponder capable of operating in Florida and the E-ZPass territory.

We are still a long way from nationwide interoperability of transponders and (the more complex) interoperability of payment systems nationwide. But these are important milestones heading in that direction.

Why can’t we get there in MA? 😉