Beginning Oct. 27, Smart Tag, Virginias electronic toll collection system, will be part of the E-ZPass network. Now, Smart Tag users can cruise past tollbooths from Virginia to Massachusetts without fumbling for change or waiting in long lines. Out of town E-ZPass users will also be able to travel most of Virginias toll roads as Virginias facilities are brought on line earlier than expected beginning on Oct. 27.
"Joining E-ZPass will allow for seamless travel in the Northeast corridor," said VDOT Commissioner Philip Shucet. "Virginia is making it as easy as possible for motorists to go wherever their trips may take them, whether its to work, school or traveling along the East Coast."
E-ZPass is accepted in West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. It will be accepted in Illinois, New Hampshire and Maine next year.
Smart Tag users do not have to make any changes to begin using their Smart Tags on E-ZPass toll roads. Motorists who have both Smart Tag and E-ZPass transponders need to remove one of them to avoid charges to both accounts. Commercial vehicles with dual wheels, more than two axles and weighing more than 7,000 pounds that travel to New York need to exchange their white Smart Tag transponder for a blue one because motor carriers in New York are required to have blue ones.
The Pocahontas Parkway and the Richmond Metropolitan Authority will integrate with E-ZPass at a later date. The Richmond authority is still recovering from damage caused by Tropical Storm Gaston, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, and will probably not be ready to integrate with E-ZPass until mid-2005. Pocahontas Parkway should begin accepting E-ZPass by the end of the year.
In Virginia, there are more than 495,000 active Smart Tags and 10.5 million electronic toll transactions a month. During peak hours, 75% of all toll transactions are Smart Tag transactions. With Smart Tag, motorists do not need to stop and pay cash to travel through toll facilities. A transponder mounted on the inside of the windshield automatically deducts the toll from a pre-paid account.