Ferries could make use of transponders, reader says

The in basket: Frank Reed read the May 30 Road Warrior about interest accrued on Good to Go! accounts , from which bridge and highways tolls can be paid, and wondered why ferry fares can’t be paid the same way.
“The Washington State ferry system engages in a huge rip-off of its customers and seems to pat itself on the back for doing so,” he wrote. “The crossing tolls, pre-purchased on-line or at toll booths, are not really accounts set up in the customer’s name with a dollar value in them, as are Good to Go accounts, but only slightly different version of the previous system of buying paper tickets. In addition the tickets have fast expiration times and are not user friendly.
“Actual monetary amounts in actual accounts can draw interest (as you pointed out) that can be used by the ferry system, don’t care if toll values vary for seasonal or other reasons and don’t penalize the customer with an expiration date.
My question is why is the ferry system is so intent on using its own pre-paid tolling system which doesn’t work (software problems) and not the Good to Go! system, which according to your article can relatively easily credit the correct facility being used. This would certainly help the bean counters with realistic ferry route usage data.
“Why not use just one tolling system?”

The out basket: Transponders, the windshield devices that signal overhead readers to deduct a toll from an account linked to a passing vehicle, might have some application in the future in recognizing cars for which reservations have been made for a ferry trip, WSF long-range planner Ray Deardorf told a meeting to explore the future of the ferry system just this week.
But WSF spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether says use of a transponder system now is barred by the variations in ferry fares.
“WSF’s tolls vary by size of vehicle and the number of passengers in the vehicles, so it is necessary to have some sort of control point so that a toll booth seller/attendant can differentiate between the categories and charge the vehicle correctly,” she said.


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