A new fee for E-ZPass is moving forward, even as one state delegate is trying to stop it.
Monday, Del. Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond) filed a bill to make monthly E-ZPass fees illegal. Loupassi argues the fees are designed to generate profit, not cover costs.
It's not getting any easier to run E-ZPass. Nearly a million transponders are in use in Virginia, where the automatic tolling program is growing and getting more expensive.
VDOT soon will be charging a new fee on top of the tolls. New users, or customers who get a replacement device, will pay either $.50 or $1 per month, depending on the type of device they use.
The new structure was a compromise, as VDOT's Tamara Rollison explained last week.
"We listened to our customers," Rollison stated July 9, "And we adjusted the fee proposal to balance the concerns of our customers with our need to pay for the growing costs of the E-ZPass program."
But that compromise was unacceptable to Loupassi, whose bill would never allow VDOT to impose monthly fees.
New users would pay $48 to $120 over the life of their devices, which cost VDOT only a fraction of that amount.
VDOT says the expenses reach far beyond the E-ZPass transponders, and Commissioner Greg Whirley has gone on record saying, "We're not making a profit off this" (Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 9, 2012).
It's a statement that may now be put to the test by state lawmakers.
Loupassi's bill can't be considered by the General Assembly until next year at the earliest. The fee for new E-ZPass users and replacement transponders still takes effect in September.
We'll get the latest on the E-ZPass fees when the plan goes before the Commonwealth Transportation board on Wednesday.
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