Illinois Tollway could soon charge Indiana residents more

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 5/1/2013

Officials are writing another chapter in an ongoing saga over toll collection and processing fees on separate toll systems in Illinois and Indiana.

The Illinois Tollway Authority is planning to charge an extra fee for Indiana-based customers who use E-ZPass transponders to access the Illinois system.

A spokeswoman says the fee would help the Illinois agency pay to process I-Pass transactions on the privately operated Indiana Toll Road and Chicago Skyway.

As things stand now, the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. (ITRCC), a consortium with roots in Spain and Australia that leased the Indiana Toll Road and Chicago Skyway in 2006 and 2005 respectively, leaves the processing of I-Pass transactions up to the Illinois Tollway Authority.

The Illinois Tollway Authority released a statement to Land Line on Tuesday, April 30, saying an agency committee is currently deliberating whether to charge Indiana-based users the extra fee.

“Despite the introduction of i-Zoom (now Indiana E-ZPass), the predominant transponder used on the Indiana Toll Road and Skyway is still I-Pass. In fact, in 2012, 59 percent of all electronic transactions on the Indiana Toll Road and Skyway were I-Pass transactions,” the Illinois Tollway statement reads.

“Because I-Pass customers are the principle users of the Indiana and Skyway roadways, Illinois, in effect, provides a large portion of the customer service costs for ITRCC operations.”

“Most toll agencies around the nation, including the Illinois Tollway, absorb these customer service costs and factor them into the tolls they charge,” the Illinois agency continued. “ITRCC could decide to pay these customer service expenses as a cost of doing business to simply take less profit. However, they have chosen instead to pass these costs on to their customers.”

The Tollway Authority Board of Directors’ customer service committee plans to vote on the transaction fee in May and is currently evaluating whether it’s even legal to do so.

“We are currently in the process of evaluating this policy to ensure fairness to all of our customers. This issue will be brought to the Tollway Board’s customer service committee in May for review and discussion as part of ongoing effort to evaluate all business rules as part of development of new toll collection system,” the statement reads.

“Our evaluation will also determine if it is legally permissible for us to pass on a transaction fee to E-ZPass customers from one state and also how we would technically implement this fee using our new electronic toll collection system.”

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