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EDITORIAL: I-PASS vs. I-Zoom
First they drubbed
us in the Super Bowl. Now they're
snubbing us at the tollbooth.
Indianans seem intent on picking a
border fight with Illinoisans. Let's
make 'em pay.
Indiana Toll Road begins
electronic tolling in June, fares
will jump 72 percent for those who
pay with cash. Cars with the I-Zoom
transponder -- that's Indiana's
version of I-PASS -- will get a 40
percent discount. Illinois drivers
with I-PASS transponders can breeze
through the I-Zoom lanes without
stopping, but their I-PASS accounts
will get hit for the full fare.
That's not how it works on the friendly side
of the state line. Drivers who pay tolls electronically get a 50
percent discount on the Illinois Tollway, whether they're using
an I-PASS or another transponder issued by members of the
11-state E-ZPass network. Some 90,000 Indiana residents have
invested in I-PASS transponders to save money when they drive in
Illinois. Of course, we had every intention of continuing that
discount now that the Hoosiers are getting their own
transponders. But now we're not so sure.
In a letter to the Indiana Toll Road's new
Illinois Tollway chief Brian McPartlin threatened to make I-Zoomers
pay full tolls in Illinois unless Indiana extends its discount
to I-PASS users.
Indiana says it didn't set out to be un-neighborly. Gov. Mitch
Daniels' plan to lease the Indiana Toll Road to the same foreign
consortium that operates the Chicago Skyway ran into such
vehement opposition that it almost died in the legislature. In a
last-minute compromise, lawmakers agreed to give I-Zoom users a
40 percent discount through 2016. But the lease deal had already
been struck with Cintra-Macquarie, so the state is on the hook
for the difference. Over 10 years, Indiana expects to pay the
consortium $278 million to subsidize I-Zoom drivers. The
possibility of subsidizing drivers who use other states'
transponders didn't come up.
Even now, some Hoosiers wonder what the fuss is about. Beginning
June 1, a full-fare drive across the entire length of the
Indiana Toll Road will cost only $8, up from $4.65. The Indiana
leg of your annual Pennsylvania road trip vacation will cost a
mere $3.35 more each way. So no, it's not a threat to the
college fund if you think of the Indiana Toll Road as 157 miles
of asphalt on the way to someplace else. Indiana: Gateway to
Those who drive back and forth across the state line with some
regularity, though, are in for some aggravation.
We can stick with our I-PASS transponders and pay full fare in
Indiana. We can equip our cars with both transponders in an
attempt to qualify for both discounts, but that will probably
cause the electronic system to charge us twice. We can throw
away our perfectly good I-PASS transponders and get I-Zooms
instead, because at least for now, I-Zooms will work on both
sides of the border. Or we can retaliate.
Illinois "will have to give careful consideration to making
I-Zoom holders ineligible for the electronic tolling discount
for travel on the Illinois Tollway," McPartlin wrote. Why stop
there? Let's fight the only-for-Hoosiers Indiana discount with
the only-for-Hoosiers Illinois surcharge: I-Zoom users pay
Over 10 years, Indiana
expects to pay the consortium $278 million to subsidize I-Zoom
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Thursday May 03, 2007