Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Toll Transponder Test

So, about that toll transponder I installed a few weeks back in anticipation of the opening of North Carolina's first toll road. I suppose it would be a good idea to make sure it works, right?

To find out, I did a "test drive" from I-40 to the first Triangle Parkway exit (Hopson Road) yesterday. Would the posted toll amount (worth 30¢) appear on my online statement, leaving me with a balance of $19.70? Yes indeedy! But it turns out, I didn't actually have to pay that 30 cents to find out if the transponder was working properly, because Amber's trips down the not-tolled-until-August NC-540 showed up on our online statement also, with a toll of $0.00 charged.

Hey, now that I think about it...this kind of gives us a way to stalk each other. Now I can see at exactly what time Amber drives down NC-540 on her way home from work, to the second. Neat! So far on her commute home from work, she's averaging a pass-through time of 16:20:35. This will really come in handy when we have kids who are old enough to drive. We're watching you! Maybe by then, there will be several more toll roads in the area for us to stalk via our NC Quick Pass accounts.

Another reason I wanted to check the online account is to make sure we did NOT get any tolls deducted on the West Virginia Turnpike the previous weekend. My transponder will eventually be E-ZPass compatible, but not yet. I suppose if the transponder did work already, then the electronic signs along the West Virginia Turnpike's toll booths would have told me so on the spot.

As for what the holdup is on E-ZPass compatiblity, according to the News and Observer's "Road Worrier", the remaining issue is this. Other toll-collecting states have a law that guarantees the legal privacy of toll transactions, and E-ZPass (and others) won't do business with North Carolina until an equivalent law is on the books in this state as well. That law might be introduced this Spring, if we're lucky...it all depends on our state legislature. (Great.)

By the way, there wasn't a whole lot of traffic on the Triangle Parkway when I test drove it yesterday. But it was nonzero, at least.

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