Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Did IPass...Pass The Test?

On Tuesday, Dad and I went to take my sister back to college. In order for us to go to DeKalb, where NIU is located, we have to take the tollway. Before January, we had to pay about $2.15 each way in tolls. However, in January, Illinois doubled the tollway rates for everyone...except those who use IPass. IPass is a prepaid system that uses a transponder mounted on the windshield of your car. When you go through IPass only lanes, you get to slow down instead of stopping completely to pay the toll. It costs $50 and includes a $10 deposit and $40 in tolls. Oh yeah and if you don't use automatic replenishment (with a credit or debit card), you get charged an additional $10.

Fortunately for us, my grandmother bought us an IPass. I activated the IPass account on Sunday and on Tuesday morning, Dad, Samone, and I were off to take her back to school...and use the IPass for the first time. We didn't actually start trying to mount it until we were leaving that morning. It took me a little while to figure out how exactly to mount it to the windshield. In fact, I'm not sure if our first toll was deducted because I was still fiddling with the thing. Once I got it mounted properly, it was pretty convenient. It was nice not to have to worry about counting out tolls or whether or not we had enough change to make the whole trip. According to my dad, we probably saved a few minutes on our travel time because of the IPass.

I'm glad that we have an IPass, but I feel sorry for those poor people still using cash. You want to know how high the tolls are for cash users? One toll went from $0.85 to a whopping $1.90 (for the record, this toll was for the exit after the one we get off at). Could you imagine having to pay nearly $2.00 for one toll? Then, the rates for the truckers also went up a lot (although they get a discount after 7:00 p.m.). Illinois raised the tolls for cash users in an effort to easy traffic congestion and raise some more money. Illinois will undoubtedly benefit from more IPass users. They will get at least $40 from each user, money that is already in the bank. I wonder, though, if out-of-towners will think twice before they drive on Illinois's Toll Roads.

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