Temporary cut in I-Pass fees marks opening of new Tri-State interchange
BY ROSALIND ROSSI Transportation Reporter August 28, 2014 3:32PM
GRAPHIC: IPass cost decreased temporarily
Updated: August 29, 2014 1:13AM
Starting Oct. 1, the cost to open an I-Pass account will be temporarily lowered as Illinois Tollway officials prepare for the October debut of the I-Pass-only Tri-State Tollway I-294/I-57 interchange.
The Illinois Tollway board of directors on Thursday approved a plan to reduce the upfront cost of an I-Pass to $30 from the existing $50 or $60, and OK’d other savings to customers as well.
“We have heard that the upfront cost of I-Pass can be a barrier for some,’’ said Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “We hope that this program will help relieve that burden so that everyone has access to I-Pass.’’
The Board’s action came in advance of the October opening of the new Tri-State Tollway I-294/I-57 interchange, which marks the first interstate-to-interstate connection on the Tollway system with no toll booth collection points for drivers who wish to pay cash.
For I-Pass customers who open accounts from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, the initial pre-paid toll amount, as well as the minimum balance required, will be reduced from $40 to $20.
Also during that time, existing customers can have their required minimum balances permanently reduced from $40 to $20 by calling 800-824-7277 weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by visiting a Tollway Customer Service Center.
After Oct. 1, the deposit for an I-Pass transponder will be permanently set at $10. Current manual-replenishment customers who paid a $20 transponder deposit will have a $10 refund automatically applied to their account in pre-paid tolls.
The move follows “focus group research” indicating that for some, the initial $50 to $60 investment in I-PASS was “an obstacle,’’ said Tollway spokeswoman Wendy Abrams. But, Abrams said, “we saw a major shift in opinion when the initial cost of I-PASS was reduced.”
The first phase of the new I-294/I-57 interchange will connect northbound I-57 to northbound I-294, and southbound I-294 to southbound I-57. It will include a new interchange at 147th Street.
To smooth the transition, through Dec. 31, customers who drive through an interchange toll point without an I-Pass will have 30 days to pay unpaid tolls instead of the normal seven days.