Proceed Directly to Go with an E-ZPass

As we travel the highways and byways of this great land of ours (six states on our most recent softball journey), we’ve run into situations where states charge you to drive on their roads. That’s right, toll roads. Coming from Michigan, where anybody can drive on our crumbling roads for free, it is a little bit of a shock to me that when I go to your state, you’re going to charge us to use your road. And then have the nerve to to subject me to mile after mile of lane closures, orange barrels and toll booths. But that’s the way of the world, or so my husband tells me, so I figured out a way to deal with it.

e-zpassInstead of having to carry around lots of extra change, pull tickets at access points, and get stuck in the pay lane traffic back up, we bought an E-ZPass, or an I-Pass to you Illinois folk.  What’s an E-ZPass? It’s a little transponder that sits on your dash or mounts to your windshield that, through the magic of electronic wizardry, pays your toll by debiting your E-ZPass account. Yes, that’s really oversimplified. If you want the gory details, there’s more here.  This is the equivalent of drawing the Proceed Directly to Go Pass in Monopoly.

Benefit 1. Time Saving
Most tollways have a dedicated E-ZPass lane, which allows you to bypass the congested toll-collecting lanes and cruise on through. I have estimated that it saved as much as 6 minutes at some pay lanes.

Benefit 2: Money Saving
Less time idling in the pay lane means better fuel economy so there is some money saved there. In some cases, you actually get a discounted toll rate so that’s an extra savings bonus.

Benefit 3: This Cool Video
This guy says it way better than I could. Plus, he has sweet dance moves. And an inflatable dolphin.

Get Your Own
Now I know you are dying to get one of those fancy little gadgets for yourself and I can’t blame you. I sometimes loan mine out to family and really, really good friends. Getting an E-ZPass of your own is pretty darn easy but it is worth shopping around. Some states have lower rates or lower deposits to get the transponder unit. The minimum balance required also varies, so if you don’t live in a toll state and don’t want your life savings tied up on a transponder, look for a low minimum. Also, beware that some states, like New York, have monthly service fee. I found this really helpful Wikipedia page with a chart to help you figure out the best situation for your usage.

Where can you use your E-ZPass?
Right now, 14 states and over 20 toll roads accept the pass. If you have to travel the Illinois/Ohio/Pennsylvania corridor, you’ll want one (Watch your speed, too, especially in Ohio. Those cops are sneaky!). Here’s handy map of where you can use it. I hope that North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida join up soon. Not every toll bridge or road in the E-ZPass states will accept the pass. Some privately-owned structures have their own fee system so bring some extra quarters.

There you have it, the EZ way to proceed directly to GO and save some time, money and travel headaches. Safe travels!

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