Charge Fee, Won't Travel

Thousands cancel E-ZPass as Maryland starts monthly fee

Maybe E-ZPass isn't so, umm, E-Z and convenient after all.  At least that's what some Maryland residents are finding out.

The state has started charging a monthly fee to use E-ZPass, so thousands of users have moved to close their accounts, Maryland Transportation Authority officials said.

Authority statistics show 19,000 users filed requests to close accounts in July, compared to the previous monthly average of 670 requests. The new $1.50-per-month fee went into effect on July 1.

AAA Mid-Atlantic's Lon Anderson brings up a good point learned from drivers who e-mailed his office about the fee. He told the Examiner that people see the fee as a penalty for those who use the E-ZPass system.

"The whole point of E-ZPass was that it was going to be less expensive to the state," Anderson told the Examiner. "Traffic could move more freely and they would spend less collecting tolls. The state has a self-interest in having as many [E-ZPass users] as possible."

Meanwhile, Authority spokeswoman Teri Moss said the number of dropped accounts is a small fraction of the nearly 560,000 accounts and has been offset somewhat by new accounts.

Moss told the Examiner that the state still has some 70,000 accounts that haven't been used in the past year, and those accounts cost the state $2.25 to maintain.

So will those who canceled their accounts just line up in regular lines and use their spare change?  At least some hinted they were going to sign up for E-ZPass in other states that don't charge a fee.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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