How Easy is E-ZPass?
A long time ago, in a state far, far away…
(not that far, really)
My wife introduced me to the wonders of E-ZPass.
I have to admit I was a bit skeptical.
I wondered whether technology was up to the challenge of accurately identifying, logging and billing the toll charges on each and every car moving through a toll plaza.
Yes, the century was still young, but my worries were, of course, unfounded.
Perhaps I was secretly mourning the loss of the opportunity to play coin hoops at unmanned tollbooths. After years of practice, I was still finessing my form to match my childhood memory of how my father did it.
He had this certain elegance in his coin toss technique that never compromised on speedy accuracy.
His quarters would hit their mark every time with a definitive ‘clunk!’
There was never a need for the coins to swirl around the basket, because they were always perfectly flung.
But now it was time for me to throw in the towel and stick a strange white cube to my windshield.
I’ve explained before that I usually hold the position of IT Guy in our family, but in this particular moment, I was just a stick-in-the-mud Luddite.
Thank goodness my wife was there to catch me in my tech stumble and keep us somewhat close to the bleeding edge of consumer tech.
Full Speed Ahead!
And the result was pure joy.
Especially back then, when most people didn’t have E-ZPass tags, and there was only one booth in a toll plaza dedicated to the technology.
We’d whisk through, leaving lines of cars in the dust waiting to hand over currency to a live human being.
We felt like we were adding ten to fifteen minutes back to our lives every time we’d pass a toll.
It was just wondrous.
Over the next few years, everyone else eventually got their own E-ZPass tags, and most of the toll lanes bid farewell to their biologic toll collectors.
So the E-ZPass lanes started filling up, and traversing them wasn’t quite as speedy.
But if you didn’t belong to the E-ZPass club, you had the displeasure of waiting in the last line dedicated for citizens with too much time on their hands.
Today, using E-ZPass is a standard way to travel the landscape for most cars.
The good news is you don’t really have to think about it.
(When was the last time you had to worry about exact change?)
It’s simply set it and forget it!
But sometimes, it still pays to check in….
It’s Time to Update Your E-ZPass Account
Recently, the equipment I need as a commuting road warrior has shifted from train to automobile.
Yes, if you were wondering, my recent, ‘fun’ car-buying experience was directly prompted by this development.
My new highway commute places my trek across one of our majestic bridges, and I decided to check out whether I could sign up online as a frequent traveler to receive a lower toll price.
But along the way on the E-ZPass website, I noticed my family’s two cars and their license plate numbers were not listed correctly. The data was years out of date.
In fact, it had not been updated since we opened up our account.
In my defense, we’d never had a reason to go to that section of the website to detect the problem.
(And thankfully, nobody else had either.)
Still, it didn’t seem as urgent a problem as the time the credit card on the account expired, (unbeknownst to us)
and we started receiving angry yellow warning flashes at every tollgate.
But the moment had clearly arrived to take some action or invite bad car karma….
If in Doubt, Click “Add Vehicle”
Feeling industrious, I clicked on the ‘Vehicles List’ tab and then clicked on the first of my two former cars.
But when I tried to update the license plate number, as well as the vehicle detail, I discovered that I could only adjust the vehicle information.
The license plate line was grayed out.
Scouring for my problem online did not bring up a solution.
So I decided all I could do was start from scratch and just add in the new car.
And guess what… I think that’s how you’re supposed to do it!
So I clicked- ‘Add Vehicle.’
And then I filled in everything, including the new license plate number.
Finally, I deleted the old car from the expanded vehicle list.
How to Update Your License Plate Number in E-ZPass
It’s extremely straightforward.
(I guess in the battle of Barrett vs. E-ZPass, I’m now 0 – 2.)
That said, I do have small bone to pick with the language used here-
For me it wasn’t really ‘Adding a Vehicle’ as much as it was
‘Adding a License Plate.’
I think the problem also was I was attempting to update both the license plate number and my car information.
(Maybe that would suggest a total do-over right there.)
But if you click on an existing vehicle to edit, the program automatically assumes you’re keeping your license plate and only updating your car.
What happens if you still have your car and just need to freshen up its license plate numbers?
Well, the new ‘Mr. E-ZPass Expert’ has the answer!
Yes, you’ve got to start from the beginning:
- Click ‘Add a Vehicle’
- Type in the new license plate number along with your existing car detail
- Finally, delete the other listing with the old license plate number
- Continue on with your life
No, I don’t think it’s perfect, but it works.
And that’s as reasonable a way to describe our government on a good day as any!
The Easy Commute Begins?
I’m happy to report, both our cars are now up to date in the E-ZPass system.
I wouldn’t exactly call it easy, but I correctly guessed my way across the finish line.
And I imagine my momentary bout with tech confusion will go a long way towards ensuring future ease every time I cross through an E-ZPass corridor.
Now that I’m a true road warrior, it’s all that really matters!