Monday, March 07, 2005

Tollways and I-Pass

Today I went and picked up an I-pass system for my van. I don't do a lot of traveling on the tollways, but it was time to pick one up. Why you ask? Well, in Illinois we have this Governor, Blagojevich (Blah-goy-oh-vich) and he decided one day that in order to help funding, and to squeeze more money out of the transportation industry, he was going to double the toll rates. That is unless you have an I-pass and then you can pay the old rates and still get to drive in the special lane that doesn't make you stop. The I-pass system has been around for a while now, so for those that already had one, this was not a big deal. However for those of us that don't have one it kind of sucks.

Now I'm going to Kalamazoo, Michigan in two weeks and I have to drive through Chicago, which means a lot of tolls. And I have other events that will take me onto the toll way through out the year. I also have to go into Chicago on business at least 6 times this year. That means a lot of tolls I'm going to have to pay. Then there is my visiting friends in the suburbs and Wisconsin, plus going Shooting with a friend of mine in Aurora. Those all require me to get onto the tollway. With I-Pass I only pay $.45 at most of the tolls, With out it I would have to pay an even $1.00. That is what it cost me when I went to Oshkosh, Wisconsin two weeks ago. So I sat down and did the math; figuring the number of trips on the tollways and how much they would cost(Some of them are up to $2.00 with out an I-pass) plus how many times I was going to go through a Tollbooth each trip, I figured out it was worth the investment.

It cost me $50.00 to get started. $10.00 for the deposit on the transponder and $40.00 in Preloaded tolls. That's not too bad, I've had the government rape me for more money without as much practical (albeit unnecessary if they didn't raise the tolls) as this is going to give me.

Now here is the kicker. I purchase the damn thing, get back to work, go to activate it and.... There's a problem. I-Pass systems work on over 99% of the vehicles in Illinois with out a problem. However, I don't own one of those 99% of the vehicles. I'm in the 1% of the "You Suck" group. If you have one of these vehicles you are to try placing the I-Pass in a different location on the windshield than the other 99% of vehicles. If it doesn't work, then you get to purchase a special bumper mounted one. Needless to say, I'm not pleased with this. It had better work in the special position or I'm going to be rather unhappy.

I'd go test it out, but I don't feel like driving around for the hell of it just to play with the I-pass system to see if it works. If it doesn't work then I can still use it in the manual lanes, I just have to come to a complete stop for the system to read it, manually. Which pretty much defeats the original purpose of an I-pass.

So remember, if you are going to try to travel through Illinois, and don't have an I-pass. Be prepared to pay $1.00 to $2.00 a toll.

Now I'm going to go see if I can get this damn thing to work on my vehicle... I guess I am going to go driving around tonight after work. (sigh)

Update 03/08/05: I tested out the I-pass last night. It worked just fine, no problems. If you are going to do a lot of traveling on the Illinois tollway system it's worth it. Basically it's free. $10 deposit you get back if you return the transponder and $40.00 in pre-paid tolls.