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Oracle of Delphi

ON EZ-PASS TOLL ROADS, BEWARE 'ORPHAN EXIT' FEE

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Millions of drivers around the country use E-ZPass and other electronic toll collection systems to speed them on their daily drives, but consumers are discovering that there is a price to be paid for the convenience: loss of privacy, haggling between state systems, accidental fines. Now, add to that list the “orphan exit.”

You probably know you should read your bills carefully every month looking for signs of fraud or overcharging by retailers. But if you're like most people, you probably don't do it anyway. Fortunately, Pennsylvania driver Kathy Suntato is that special consumer who keeps her magnifying glass nearby when scanning her bills.

Once each week, Suntato gets on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Philadelphia and gets off at Willow Grove, about 20 miles up the road. Under the turnpike’s toll scheme, that should cost her 75 cents. But seven times in recent weeks, Suntato was charged $5 instead. The reason: "orphan exits." Never heard of them? If you drive on a highway that collects tolls electronically, you'd better get to know the term.

Suntato, like millions of drivers around the country, keeps her E-ZPass box with the radio-enabled computer chip attached to her windshield. Every time she enters or exits the highway, a Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority computer makes note of it, and deducts the toll from a prepaid account that's replenished regularly by charges against Suntato's credit card.

Privacy advocates have long warned of the dangers of a system that knows where drivers are coming and going, but consumers have embraced the E-ZPass system because it lets them speed past traffic jams at toll plazas. In some states, including New Jersey, E-ZPass users even get a discount.

Extra charge

But Suntato isn't getting a discount; in fact, she's paying extra. Toll fees on the Pennsylvania Turnpike are based on distance -- the farther you drive, the more you pay. But what happens when the system doesn't know how far you drove because the computers don’t know where you entered the highway?

Article Continues: http://redtape.msnbc.com/2007/07/millions-of-dri.html#posts

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One can rip off the 407 toll highway in Ontario with the orphan exit charge. The 407 will assume the best if there was an orphan exit situation. So let's look the numbers:

Full highway distance fees, with transponder:

108 km * 17c / km = $18.36

Instead, I would do this:

Orphan exit with transponder and orphan exit without transponder:

5 km * 17c / km + 12 km * 17c / km + access fee = 85c + $2.04 + $3.55 = $6.44

The 407 was a planning gaffe on the part of Ontario. Their presence destroyed a right of way needed for a real relief road to be used by all, not just the rich. Their management don't care about the little guy, and their security guard even roughed me up when I tried to return my transponder. Guess what? The transponder got lost in the process and I got charged the $50 fee. So what did I get for driving out and trying to give it back? A bump on my head from where I was pushed into a glass door.

Needless to say I really HATE the 407, and if I was a more vengeful person I would have done damage to their offices or roadway.

Edited by the_yellow_dart
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This is why I'm glad I live in a state with no toll roads. If I-80 ever turned toll, I'd just use local highways. My grandparents live in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago and you go through toll booths 3 or 4 times just within the city, not to mention Dixon and DeKalb on I-88.

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Still infinitely better than waiting in a huge line to pay 50 cents. Why everyone doesn't get EZ-Pass is beyond me; there's no excuse not to have it.

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The 407 is one of the biggest scams perpetrated on the public in the history of public scams. I've used it once since it opened. It is an outrage in Ontario, where we pay something like $6 billion in gasoline taxes, which just gets dumped into general revenue, but then have to pay for a road, too? I really wonder what kind of backroom deal that French company got from the Harris government for allowing a 99 year lease and absolutely no recourse for the government to claw back their frequent increases in fees.

For all our American friends out there, bare in mind that we in Canada are paying $4 a gallon in gas and nearly half of that are gasoline taxes. We export oil to you, but you can buy it for a third less. Road tolls in the U.S. almost make sense because your gasoline taxes are far more modest, but we are paying at least double what you guys do in gas taxes.

Oh, that's right - WE HAVE FREE HEALTH CARE, DON'T WE? :lol:

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Very simple way around this..... don't go through the entrance toll until you see the green light that your pass was accepted.

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Here in Portugal the speed limit when passing through 'Via Verde' is 60Km/h, so that the reader at the gate can ID the car's pass.

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Very simple way around this..... don't go through the entrance toll until you see the green light that your pass was accepted.

We're obviously talking about different systems here. The Ontario 407 (only electronic toll highway I've personally seen) takes toll readings without any indication to the driver, and at any speed up to 200 km/h. There is no "booth", just a big bar with sensors and cameras over the highway.

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Here in Portugal the speed limit when passing through 'Via Verde' is 60Km/h, so that the reader at the gate can ID the car's pass.

How fast does a donkey pulling a cart of olives go in Portugal? :P

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I have no problem with the concept of toll roads for situations of the actual construction. That happened here 40 years ago when the Burlington Skyway was built: the government promised to take the toll off the bridge once it was paid for and they did. Since many governments have a love-hate relationship with the auto, they love to brey about how the automobile is 'raping' the enviroment, while quietly raking in billiions of taxes, fees and fines on the hapless motorist. I understand that new highway construction can be obscenely expensive; however, what the Ontario government allowed with the 407 deal is nothing short of robbery. Plus, the horror stories about mistaken billings and collections with our 407 tollway are legion - as is to be expected in any case of a monopoly being granted to any one single company.

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Hmmm...this is yet another reason why I avoid toll roads as MUCH as possible. Sometimes, you can't help it, especially going into Chicago for my checkups at Northwestern. BUT ... if I can find an alternate route, I usually take it....

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How fast does a donkey pulling a cart of olives go in Portugal? :P

I can't stop laughing...

Anyway, my point was that if you go too fast when entering the freeway the reader may not ID where you entered, and that may cause the wrong billing.

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