I got a letter from E-ZPass a few days ago which says that starting July 1, 2009 they’re adding a few new charges. I’d heard that the Maryland legislature had told them they could add fees, but I (rather naively) hoped smarter people would prevail.
I’m a casual user of the E-ZPass system. I use it a half-dozen or so times each year. For most of the year the Maryland Transportation Authority just kicks back and collects interest on my account balance.
The letter doesn’t spell out all the new fees, but visiting the Maryland E-ZPass web site, details of the new fees (PDF file) were only a few clicks away.
- Monthly Account Charge.
A monthly account charge of $1.50 will be deducted from all E-ZPass Maryland accounts.
WTF*? The system saves them money (the E-ZPass lane has no toll collector), means fewer cars in the backups at the toll plazas, and also means fewer cars in that backup idling their engines and contributing their tailpipe emissions to the atmosphere. So because it’s good, they’re going to add a fee to discourage me from using it? WTF?
- E-ZPass Transponders.
All new or replacement devices must be purchased.
If I have to buy the transponder, does that mean it’s now legally mine? (Previously, I believe it had to be returned.) And if I’m buying the transponder, what does that monthly fee cover? Executive compensation?
- Commuter Discount Program.
The duration of E-ZPass Maryland commuter discount plans will be reduced from 60 days to 45 days.
Doesn’t affect me personally, but it still sounds like the people who use it are getting screwed. Shouldn’t they be encouraging people to use something that saves the Maryland Transportation Authority money?
- E-ZPass Shoppers Plan for the Bay Bridge.
A new Bay Bridge plan will be offered for Bay Bridge customers. The Shoppers Plan costs $10 and is good for 10 trips that may be used Sunday through Thursday only and expires after six months.
Again, doesn’t affect me personally, but this may be the only positive in the thing
- Notice of Toll Due.
Traveling through any lane in the toll facility without providing sufficient payment for the toll due will cost $3 + toll due. The notice will be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.
I don’t have a huge problem with the intention on this one; essentially it’s a penalty for not keeping your account in good shape. Similar to a bounced check fee in some ways. The problem is, this gives the people running the system an incentive to “forget” to replenish your account, or “accidentally” charge you in hopes that you won’t notice. Of course, as we all know, public officials are completely above that sort of behav… Damn. I couldn’t even hold a straight face while typing that.
- Toll Violation Charge.
Failure to pay the toll due by the deadline will result in a $25 fee in addition to the $3 + toll due.
OK, so first off, you have a non-law enforcement authority issuing fines. That’s troublesome in and of itself, but nothing new. But in addition to the fine, there’s a fee for collecting the fine… That just seems stupid.
Screw it. This isn’t worth the added costs. I’m going to cancel my account.
* As you know, the ‘F’ in WTF means “Frak.” As in “What The Frak? Do they think I’m not going to notice a huge spike in what this thing costs?” If you prefer Farscape over Battlestar Galactica, you may substitute “Frell” for “Frak.”