This is How Visitors in Rental Cars Should Pay Electronic Tolls – The Gate

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Many motorists who have regularly commuted on toll roads for years seem to applaud the substantial changes in how tolls are collected via technology: no more slowing down or stopping at a toll plaza to pay a live attendant; no more carrying a tray full of coins and bills to pay the tolls; and they even get to enjoy a discount every time they pass under a gantry to electronically pay their tolls – just drive at highway speeds as though tolls did not exist; and pay the total amount owed at the end of the month via credit card…

This is How Visitors in Rental Cars Should Pay Electronic Tolls

…but electronic tolls have not been kind to the visitor who rents a vehicle and drives on toll roads which no longer accept cash. Not only does the toll authority – which operates or oversees toll collection on highways – charge visitors the full price of the toll and extra fees to pay via mail; but rental car companies have also been fleecing their customers in the form of excessive fees.

Customers who rent cars have even been charged a daily rate for tolls or a transponder – even if they never passed under a single toll gantry or used a single toll road.

Those days are over in Florida – at least, until next month – as the Central Florida Expressway Authority is currently piloting a new automated toll payment solution called Visitor Toll Pass, which is for select visitors to Florida who rent a vehicle from a facility at Orlando International Airport and are traveling through Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

Even though travelers must pick up and return their rental vehicles at Orlando International Airport, visitors may reserve Visitor Toll Pass free of charge during the pilot phase – as no service fee is required to obtain and use it – and use it to pay tolls on all toll roads and most bridges throughout the state of Florida.

The claim from the Central Florida Expressway Authority is that motorists who use Visitor Toll Pass can potentially save as much as 80 percent compared to toll programs from rental car companies – plus an additional 23 percent on the tolls themselves. Drivers pay the lowest toll rate and do not incur any additional fees.

How Does Visitor Toll Pass Work?

Instead of signing up for the traditional – and costly – toll programs of rental car companies, Visitor Toll Pass may be used to pay tolls electronically while traveling on any toll road throughout Florida, as it is accepted at all electronic toll collection points, allowing you to travel nonstop without fumbling for cash. Plus, you will pay a reduced toll rate – with no additional fees or charges.

Simply follow these five easy steps:

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  1. Reserve Visitor Toll Pass Hit the ground running when you arrive in Florida. Reserve your pass now free of charge for your next trip. Travel must be through Wednesday, July 31, 2019. You set the end date of your trip when reserving the pass. If the end date of your trip changes, simply update your reservation using your unique trip link.
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  3. Pick up Visitor Toll Pass at Orlando International Airport Upon arrival, look for the Visitor Toll Pass counter on the rental car level of the airport. The Visitor Toll Pass counter is located on Level 1 of Orlando International Airport, Terminals A and B, where you pick up your rental car. The counter is open seven days per week from 9:00 in the morning through 1:00 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time.
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  5. Explore and Enjoy Use Visitor Toll Pass for nonstop toll travel throughout the state of Florida without needing to stop in cash toll lanes. Simply hang the pass from the arm of your rear view mirror – as the pass must be hung from the rear view mirror at all times – and go! Use Visitor Toll Pass in all electronic and express lanes, as it works in every lane which you see E-PASS, SunPass, or LeeWay. Visitors will also be eligible for exclusive toll discounts on expressways owned by the Central Florida Expressway Authority. As long as the hang tag is properly installed on the arm of the rear view mirror – it can be hung facing either direction – Visitor Toll Pass will work in any rental vehicle. Visitor Toll Pass is not responsible for any toll violations which may be incurred if the hangtag pass is not hung properly from the rear view mirror.
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  7. Return Visitor Toll Pass at Orlando International Airport Remove your Visitor Toll Pass hangtag from your rental car when you return. If you forget to return the pass, a fee of $10.00 will be charged to your credit card on file. You can either return it in person at the airport counter from 9:00 in the morning through 1:00 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time seven days per week; or you can drop it in one of the Visitor Toll Pass return drop boxes located at:
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    1. Pedestrian tunnels from rental car return parking garage to Terminals A and B
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    3. Pedestrian walkways from rental car return parking garage to Terminals A and B
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  9. Tolls Charged to Credit Card The credit card you provided will be billed within three days of the conclusion of your trip. Because a delay may occur in receiving transactions from other toll authorities, a final billing may occur 21 days after your trip has ended. You will receive an e-mail message alerting you if any additional toll charges were billed to your account. If the charges are not accepted by your credit card, the customer service department will call you and attempt to collect payment. If you are unreachable by telephone, Visitor Toll Pass will send an e-mail message notification requesting that you update your credit card information on your account.

Other Information

If you are using Visitor Toll Pass, you do not need to participate in the toll program of the rental car company. Simply decline participation in it when renting the vehicle.

Your Visitor Toll Pass hang tag will be activated when you leave Orlando International Airport in a rental vehicle. You will receive an e-mail message confirming that your trip is live and your pass is activated.

After your toll pass is activated, you will receive an e-mail message with a link to your account. You can access your account to view toll transactions and update trip and rental car information.

You will be able to see your toll transactions in real time. In most cases, your account will show transactions within 24 hours of driving through a tolling point. A delay in receiving transactions from other toll authorities may occur. Additional time may be required if the hang tag pass is not properly installed on the arm of the rear view mirror.

If you exchange your original rental vehicle for another car at Orlando International Airport the hang tag needs to be properly installed on the arm of the rearview mirror of the newly acquired vehicle. Your license plate information will then be automatically updated as you leave the parking garage – but if you change vehicles elsewhere, you will need to update your account with the new license plate information online using your unique trip link and install the hang tag on the arm of the rearview mirror of the vehicle you are driving on the toll roads.

When a vehicle passes through a tolling point without paying either electronically or with cash, cameras capture the vehicle model and license plate number. Your rental car company will be billed for any tolls you do not pay with your toll pass. However, your rental car company likely will either charge your credit card for missed tolls plus fees; or bill you for payment.

Please call customer service at 1-407-690-5300 from 9:00 in the morning through 1:00 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time seven days per week if:

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  • You do not receive an e-mail message confirming that your trip is live and your pass is activated
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  • You lose – or never receive – your unique trip link
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  • You need to dispute a toll charge
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  • Your rental car company charged you for a toll you paid with Visitor Toll Pass
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  • You need to update credit card, trip and vehicle information
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  • You need to update payment information – especially if your credit card rejects charges implemented by Visitor Toll Pass

Electronic Tolls Have Been Unfair to Visitors

“In heavily touristed cities such as Orlando, the first cashless tollbooths drivers encounter are on the road that takes them off airport property, forcing tourists, before they even have their bearings, to submit to ugly service fees charged by rental car companies”, according to this article written by Jason Cochran – who has advocated against this issue for years – for Frommer’s. “Take Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which charges customers an extra $3.95 a day for its “TollPass Convenience Charge”-even if you don’t use a toll road that day. That amount does not include the actual price of the tolls or rental fees for a transponder, if needed. The rental agreement refers customers with questions about cashless tolls to a website run by an outfit called the Highway Toll Administration – which is not a government body, as the deceptive name might suggest, but an LLC formed to profit off drivers who take rental cars onto cashless roads. It charges ridiculous fees to process tourists’ toll payments for them.”

Articles at The Gate pertaining to the topic of electronic tolls include:

Summary

Cochran surmised in his article that the fees for visitors driving rental cars in Florida were “damaging enough to the state’s reputation, it seems, that a solution has finally been introduced.”

I do not doubt that. I always thought that visitors being charged extra for clerical services – just to pay mandatory tolls simply because their rental vehicles are not equipped with a proper transponder – was unfair…

…especially when the toll authorities no longer need to pay the salaries and benefits of workers simply to collect the tolls. Those toll authorities not only save money on human toll collectors; but they also cover their expenses – if not also profit – from charging visitors to have their tolls collected.

Even worse is when employees at rental car facilities attempt to excessively gouge customers with their toll programs by charging exorbitant amounts of money – by as much as five dollars per day for a “convenience charge” during the rental period, which does not include the tolls themselves – especially if the customers never pay a single toll.

If my understanding of the Visitor Toll Pass pilot program is correct, this is an initiative which should be implemented throughout the country indefinitely – and acquisition of the pass should remain free of charge. I do not like paying tolls; and I especially do not like paying more for them than necessary. Visitor Toll Pass also frees customers from being vulnerable to the questionable practices of some rental car companies from unfairly profiting from their toll programs, as Hertz allegedly did in San Francisco as one of many examples.

Electronic tolls have been increasingly pervading the state of Florida in recent years – such as on Florida’s Turnpike as a major example – and the costs have been especially prohibitive for some people who rent cars and use roads, highways, bridges and tunnels which use electronic tolling to collect funds.

If the Visitor Toll Pass could be further improved, perhaps other options of returning the pass without penalty could be considered – such as mailing the Visitor Toll Pass back for one-way rentals as one of many examples. Perhaps that will happen if the program returns on a permanent basis and is expanded to other airports – and maybe even allow neighborhood locations and local editions of rental car facilities to participate as well.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.