More transponder nitty gritty

The in basket: There may not have been a more fertile ground for Road Warrior questions in the 11 years it has existed than the transponders that provide for electronic toll collections at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which went into effect Monday. Here are some more.


The in basket: There may not have been a more fertile ground for Road Warrior questions in the 11 years it has existed than the transponders that provide for electronic toll collections at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which went into effect Monday. Here are some more.
Cory Smith wondered if I was aware that a person can get a transponder without providing one’s license number or name.
“We purchased unregistered transponders that can’t be tracked to an individual or vehicle,” Cory said. “You have to show up in person and pay cash for these transponders. My wife and I didn’t like the fact that records of all crossings are kept in a database for 8 1/2 years.”
Glen Adrig asks if the Good to Go! transponders will also work on future tolled projects in the state, which will include HOV lanes on Highway 167 next spring and may ultimately spread to the I-5 crossing of the Columbia River, Snoqualmie Pass, and a new 520 bridge in Seattle.
“I absolutely feel that Washington would be wasting our tax money if each state tolling project required different transponders,” Glen said.
Two people (I can’t recall who) asked if motorcyclists could stick a transponder to their helmets so they can use the adhesive variety rather than what Mike Dalgaard of “Quick Throttle” magazine called the “ridiculous, breadstick-sized, unwieldy, unmountable pug ugly loaf of plastic” motorcyclists are offered.
And Jim Campbell of the paper’s opinion page recalls a suggestion he saw on a blog that anyone who wants to make his transponder portable from vehicle to vehicle simply tape it to the windshield.
The out basket: One can, indeed, get a “private, unregistered account which is not linked to any license plate, individual, or credit card,” says Janet Matkin of Good to Go! “The downside is that there is no backup system via photographs if the transponder is not read properly. Nor can you dispute any charges, since you cannot prove the account belongs to you. You must keep track of the account balance yourself, since there are no statements, and you must replenish it when it gets low. If you go into a deficit situation, you will not be notified since there is no record of who owns the account. Therefore, you will receive a violation notice.”
Cash payment is required to avoid being linked to the account by banking information, but the only charge is the same $30 minimum deposit to pay tolls that everyone else must make. The records are kept six years, not 8 1/2, says Janet.
“Good To Go! will be used on all future tolling projects in Washington State,” she said. “Once you set up an account, you will be able to use it at any transportation facility displaying the Good To Go! sign.”
An adhesive transponder stuck to a motorcycle helmet won’t work, she said. “The transponder must be kept steady in order to read properly. Since a motorcyclist often moves his/her head, it is likely that the transponder will not be read. Moreover, the windshield mounted transponder needs glass to amplify its signal, which is not provided by the helmet.”
Finally, “taping the transponder may not be sufficient to ensure the proper reading of the radio signal,” Janet said. “The glass on the windshield amplifies the signal, and if it is not properly adhered to the windshield, the signal may be too weak to read. And, of course, anytime you try to rig an electronic device to perform differently than it was designed, you risk damaging it or making it less effective.”
 
 

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