Fairfax Board Opposes Additional E-ZPass Fees
Supervisors voted Tuesday to draft a letter formally opposing a $1 monthly fee.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to formally oppose an additional $1 fee on E-ZPass transponders under consideration by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The proposed monthly fee would cover administrative and operations costs, as the number of users is expected to double in the next few years because of opening toll roads, according to an email to E-ZPass customers.
“It is unfair to toll road users because tolls are already high and, particularly with the Dulles Toll Road, those tolls are expected to go much higher,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust in his board matter.
Foust also worried that the additional fee would discourage drivers from using E-ZPass at all, causing increased congestion at tollbooths.
More tollbooth users means more toll collectors will need to be hired, said Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity.
“The most expensive toll device is a tollbooth operator,” he said, adding that a proposal designed to save money could actually end up costing more.
Foust and Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay also pointed out that this contradicts advertisements that the new I-495 Express Lanes will be “free” for high occupancy vehicles.
“'Free' doesn’t mean paying a monthly fee for a transponder,” McKay said.
Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that he didn’t like the idea of a monthly fee either, but asked the board where they expected VDOT to get the money for transponders when the Express Lanes open and more cars need them.
“There’s a certain logic to saying that the people who use the road ought to pay for it,” he said.
Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey said he didn’t think that single occupancy vehicle drivers who had already made the decision to pay to a per-mile charge using the Express Lanes would be discouraged by a single dollar more.
Specifically, the proposed monthly fee would cover costs for: Buying nearly one-half million transponders; implementing a retail program where transponders can be obtained at various stores in Northern Virginia and eventually Hampton Roads; providing service at select DMV locations; upgrading information technology to accommodate the expanded program; account management and processing of toll transactions (managing billing of all transactions); customer service and the operations of three customer service centers.
State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) has also been vocal in her opposition of the fee.
VDOT is accepting comments on the proposed monthly fee through June 12 at 5 p.m. It expects to have a decision later in June.
All comments will be reviewed and taken into consideration prior to the final decision on the proposed fee structure, VDOT said.
To comment: Go to www.virginiadot.org/e-zpass or submit
your comments directly to email@example.com. Or, mail them to: Office Communications Third Floor/Annex Bldg. Virginia Department of Transportation, 1401 E. Broad St. Richmond, VA 23219.