E-zpass Fee Proposal

SPEAK OUT

January 08, 2009

I applauded the E-ZPass program when it was implemented. It was a win-win idea for both motorists and the toll collection authority. But I consider the proposal for a monthly fee for the E-ZPass program a move in the wrong direction. And I urge the Maryland Transportation Authority to consider the possible negative impact of such a fee ("A pricier pass," Jan. 6).

If such a fee is imposed, many people who are not regular commuters, including me, will stop using E-ZPass and will return to using the less efficient attended toll booths.

If enough drivers stop participating in the E-ZPass program because of the fee, that would contribute to an increase in toll-related congestion. Additional and more costly toll attendants would also need to be hired.

Furthermore, the extra revenue generated from a monthly fee could quickly be erased if the resulting drop in E-ZPass use contributed to one or more situations like last year's problems when excessive backups prompted the suspension of toll collection at the Bay Bridge for a period of time to relieve the congestion.

Perhaps instead of levying a surcharge on E-ZPass users, the Transportation Authority should offer a participation incentive in the form greater discounts to increase E-ZPass use.

Scott Richardson, Westminster

As an E-Z Pass subscriber since 1999, it was disturbing to read "A pricier pass."

Instead of imposing new fees, the Maryland Transportation Authority should be promoting E-ZPass and encouraging motorists to subscribe to it.

And what is the transportation authority going to do if revenue decreases even after the imposition of these changes?

It would be wise to remember that our sales tax was increased and state revenue is still down.

Stanley Mason, Joppa

If motorists turn in their transponders to save the $18 annual fee for E-ZPass, we can expect to return to lane back-ups, more pollution from idling cars, more accidents caused by driver frustration and more drivers taking out their frustrations on toll-takers.

If these new fees are meant to remedy a 6 percent decline in toll revenue, why not just increase tolls by 6 percent or cancel some fee reductions?

Martha B. Landaw, Baltimore

I fail to see the logic in charging E-ZPass users a monthly fee of $1.50 and charging a $21 fee for the transponders.

The state should be pushing drivers toward using E-Z Pass, not away from it.

Using E-ZPass reduces congestion, pollution and the risk of fender-benders at toll plazas, not to mention the need for human toll-takers. All these things save money and save time.

The state should be increasing the number of E-ZPass-only lanes, not penalizing people for embracing the technology.

Beth O'Connell, North Potomac

What is wrong with us in Maryland?

Our wonderful Democratic legislative majority and governor enacted a huge tax increase, spent every penny the last governor left in the bank, increased the size of government dramatically in a slowing economy and now wants to punish those who save the state money by using E-ZPass?

Note to the state: Encouraging E-ZPass use cuts down on the need to pay toll-takers and thus saves money.

I will be turning in my E-ZPass as soon as this regressive new tax is enacted, and I encourage as many others who can do so to do the same thing.

Ruth Taylor, Ellicott City

It was my impression that the purpose of E-ZPass was to ease congestion and move traffic more efficiently.

If that is the goal, the Maryland Transportation Authority should want as many people to use E-ZPass as possible.

Imposing a monthly fee for using the system will, I believe, dramatically reduce the number of transponders being used.

I have two transponders for the three vehicles in my household, both of which often go months without being used.

If the state institutes a monthly service fee, I will definitely return one of my transponders, and possibly both.

Charging a monthly fee to use the transponders would be bad policy.

Fran Gunther Minges, Baltimore

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