NORFOLK- A surge of E-Z pass purchases are expected over the next two months as Hampton Roads residents prepare for the new "all electronic" tolling at the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels between Portsmouth and Norfolk.
While E-Z pass is nothing new to Virginia (the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and Chesapeake Expressway use E-Z pass), the tunnel tolls will represent a major increase in the number of users.
There are 15 states that are part of the E-Z pass system and a pass purchased in one state is good in all of the others.
To purchase a "Standard Transponder" in Virginia, the type that most drivers will use, will cost you $35. The money all goes into your "pre-paid toll" account, with $15 that you can use immediately and $20 more that you can access once you register the account. There is a .50 cent per month maintenance fee.
Note that the transponders remain the property of the Virginia Department of Transportation and must be returned to the Service Center when the account is closed or you'll be liable for the lost/stolen fee, which is $10 for a standard transponder. This works the same whether you order the pass online or buy it from a retail outlet.
Each state has there own set of rules and costs associated with E-Z Pass. Here are a couple of examples of how different states are doing it.
- Delaware normally charges a one-time $15 fee up front, but does not charge on-going maintenance fees. Right now through December 31st, you can get a transponder for free.
- Massachusetts does not charge for getting a transponder. They do require a $20 payment when you set up your account, which all goes into pre-paid tolls. There is no monthly fee.
- West Virginia charges $5/year for E-Z Pass, plus the cost of tolls. They have a program where for a flat quarterly or yearly fee, E-Z pass users can use the WV Turnpike an unlimited amount of times.
Important note: E-Z pass will work in North Carolina. However, the North Carolina Quick Pass stickers will NOT work in Virginia and other E-Z Pass states. North Carolina Quick Pass only works in NC and in Florida.