Say goodbye to cash-only tollbooths on the 73, 261, 241 and 133.
Starting in September 2013, drivers will have to use a FasTrak transponder or register online for a pay-as-you-go system that reads car license plates and bills people electronically.
The new system is designed to eventually save $3.2 million a year, mainly by eliminating tollbooth operator jobs, according to the Transportation Corridor Agencies. However, the transition to "all-electronic tolling" will cost TCA an estimated $9.4 million.
Under the new system, drivers without a FasTrak transponder will have to pay tolls online within 48 hours or receive a fine of $57.50 plus the unpaid toll.
Although details are still being worked out, drivers will have the option of setting up an online account with their license plate number or just paying after using the road, according to TCA spokeswoman Lori Olin.
"If you just want to use it randomly and pay-as-you-go, you can go online within 48 hours," she said.
When asked if such drivers would be charged an additional fee to set up or maintain a pay-as-you-go account, as is the case in other cashless states, Olin said, "It's too early for me to be able to provide that specific info."
The pay-as-you-go system will only be valid for Orange County toll roads. Non-FasTrak drivers will not be able to use the 91 Freeway's toll lanes, San Diego toll roads, the Golden Gate Bridge or other spots across the state where FasTrak is accepted.
The new system's debut will coincide with a state law that will make toll road signs purple.
Other toll agencies have taken similar steps toward a cash-free system, Olin said, citing examples in Florida, Texas and Colorado. However, the idea has stirred some controversy.
Denver's E-470 was the first to convert to a cashless toll system. The Denver Post collected various complaints about the change, many from drivers upset over being fined for toll bills they said they never received. One woman was charged more than $2,500 for $72.50 in unpaid tolls.
Other critics say the system unfairly penalizes rental car drivers.
Orange County's switchover will cut 81 contracted jobs and 12 TCA jobs, officials said.
For more details, visit TCA's electronic tolling FAQ page.