Neil Peterson leads the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which oversees the 241, 73, 133 and 261 toll roads. He said over 250,000 drivers use these toll roads each day—roads with a collected asset value of over $5 billion.
About 80 percent of toll road drivers use FasTrak transponders, Peterson said, while about 15 percent pay in cash. But by tracking drivers' license plate numbers, the TCA now offers five ways to avoid cash tolls completely, with or without an account.
Here are the five cash-free Orange County toll road options:
- Use a FasTrak transponder. These are pre-paid and come with a small monthly fee. They work with any toll road in the state.
- Sign up for an ExpressAccount. These are transponder-free accounts that can be paid in three ways: 1) Pay with a pre-paid account; 2) charge a credit card each time a toll is paid; 3) pay an invoice for all tolls used over the course of a month. ExpressAccount payments have no monthly maintenance fee, but the invoice option costs $2 per invoice.
- Without any account at all, pay online within 48 hours to avoid a fine.
"I'm convinced a lot of people don't use our roads because they're just concerned—where do I get off, where do I get on, will I have exact change?" he said.
The CEO said the TCA hopes to upsell ExpressAccount users with FasTrak transponders.
Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht objected to the use of license plate scanners to collect the tolls. She said she was concerned the state was not adequately protecting the private information of its citizens.
"Absolutely, that's a huge concern," Peterson said. "We're a public agency. We operate like a private company but we're a public agency. That (license plate) information is carefully guarded. There are restrictions on how it can be used. Nobody can come in and buy our mailing list or anything like that."
Councilwoman Rhonda Reardon asked why the extension that would connect the 241 to the I-5 in the south has not yet been completed.
Peterson said the TCA must build a consensus with environmental groups to reach an agreement that would allow the southern extension. He said future technologies like driverless cars could make that possible.