Thursday, November 30, 2023


Is a universal toll pass the answer to too many transponders?

By Cheri Sicard
A universal toll pass that works on all U.S. toll roads would make RV life so much easier!

Have you been frustrated by the jumbled mess that is America’s toll road system? I never used to be until I hit the Midwest and East Coast. (Although California is starting to get trickier, too.)

I try to avoid toll roads, personally. Unless there is a way to pay on the spot, but sadly that is becoming less and less common.

It’s not that I’m cheap, it’s that I’m forgetful.

My problem is that if I don’t have the proper transponder, I forget to go online and pay the toll and I end up owing more in the long run.

Transponders make it easy as they pay the tolls automatically and electronically. But they aren’t ideal for travelers.

First off, the transponder situation for toll roads in the USA is a tangled and intertwined mess. So unless you only travel in one specific area that uses one type of transponder, you are going to find it frustrating.

For nomads, the toll road transponder situation gets a lot more complicated. Some transponders work with some others, but not all.

People who travel a lot could easily end up with a box full of transponders and still not be covered in all situations.

Sure, there are middleman services. But who wants to pay a monthly charge on top of the toll charges? And those charges rack up regardless of whether or not you used toll roads in any given month.

Universal Toll Pass

In the video below, the folks from Changing Lanes dove into the subject of universal transponders, an almost mythical accessory at this point as the world has been waiting so long for them.

They found a solution that works most of the time. At least 18 Eastern states—and 18 down to one cuts down on a lot of transponders and makes toll roads infinitely easier to navigate.

No, we are still not 100% fully covered everywhere, but things have improved and are getting closer. This video focuses on the UNIpass Universal Toll pass and what it can and can’t do.

The video is two years old and 18 states were onboard then. It has now increased to 19.  Hopefully, before too long this will truly be a universal toll pass. But for now, it’s better than most.

The program is run through the Central Florida expressway, but you do not need to be a Florida resident to take advantage of it. The transponder comes with a one-time $14.95 charge. Tolls paid through the transponder are less expensive than pay-as-you-go. And you’ll never have to wait in line at a toll booth.

What do you think?




0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Donn (@guest_198257)
1 year ago

At first, my thoughts were essentially “Here we go again, another Biden liberal total government take over” but upon reflection and after hearing the entire presentation, I think you are right on this one….Make America Great Again, with this kind of thing. It would seem to be a very good thing.

Roger Marble (@guest_198242)
1 year ago

A number of issues. Years ago there was federal legislation that was suppose to have all toll roads use a single comparable system for collecting tolls but the Not Invented Here” syndrome and the “Our State is better than your state” mentality took over. BUT If you travel in the states that currently accept EZPass you are in luck. You can save time and a little money. To get the best deal you do have to spend a little time doing some research as some states charge a monthly fee for the transponder while others do not have such a fee. You do not have to live in the state where you sign up. You do have to sign up for the type& size vehicle you have and again the rules are not the same for all 17 states that use the EZPass transponder. You only need multiple transponders if you have multiple vehicles.

Cheryl (@guest_198212)
1 year ago

Where is the link? I can’t find it.

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl

Hi, Cheryl. It should show the beginning of the video right below the post. Your device might have it blocked somehow. But here’s the link in case you can’t find it in the post: Have a great day. 😀 –Diane

John Koenig (@guest_198193)
1 year ago

Re this new “one pass”; E-Z Pass is already established in 17 states (including PARTS of FL) BUT, requires multiple transponders (auto, 2 axle motorhome, motorhome towing 2 axle trailer and possible other combinations). Does the “one pass” also require multiple transponders or, do cameras & sensors “know” what your driving and apply the correct toll?

Snayte (@guest_198185)
1 year ago

The real solution is to outlaw toll roads.

Jeff Craig (@guest_198182)
1 year ago

After that video originally came out, I looked into getting a transponder system for our trips. While there is not a ‘one for them all’, many transponders will work on other, regional toll road systems. I tend to go to Oklahoma to see family on my trips from Seattle, so I got the ‘Pike Pass’ system for my rig and Jeep. It works on the tollway through Wichita, all of Oklahoma, and most of Texas (not that I’d use it there). I could have gotten two other passes instead, but Pike Pass covered my needs best.

That said, toll roads are unnecessary, if legislators would actually fund road maintenance with gas taxes, and charge appropriate tab fees to conglomerates like UPS, FedEx, Knight, Old Dominion, etc… Oklahoma has crap roads (everywhere except around OKC, where the state capitol is…) but it also had dirt cheap trailer tabs for freight carriers.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Craig
Denny (@guest_198167)
1 year ago

I have an Illinois IPass and a Sunpass for Florida. When I was traveling in Florida several years ago my toll was charged on both systems. When I contacted both systems for a refund all I got was the runaround suggesting that I contact the other for a refund. I gave up – it just wasn’t worth the hassle.

John (@guest_198208)
1 year ago
Reply to  Denny

The new SunPass Pro now works for I-pass. I just got done using my SunPass Pro ($14.95 for transponder) through WI, IL, IN, KY, TN…

Tom (@guest_198159)
1 year ago

Blue Highways for me. Back roads, although slower, are much more interesting. You see the real America.

Jewel (@guest_198149)
1 year ago

Try looking at who owns most of these toll roads.

In a short-sighted attempt to fill holes in their budgets, some states have been selling the control over their toll roads to private foreign investors. The most famous case is the Indiana Toll road 75-year lease that started back in 2006. During the first five years of control, the company in charge more than doubled the toll for five-axel trucks from $14 to $32. That same company has been buying up control of U.S. toll roads since 1999 and now controls 6 major U.S. roadways.

Spanish company Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte (or Cintra) just signed a deal with the state of Texas worth $1.38 billion where it will operate two future portions of the North Tarrant Express in Dallas/Fort Worth

Seann Fox (@guest_198138)
1 year ago

Toll roads should be illegal if gas taxes are collected. Gas taxes are supposed to pay for the roads.

Cheri Sicard (@guest_198143)
1 year ago
Reply to  Seann Fox

I agree, and nothing is as bad as the toll roads in PA. That state is VERY unfriendly to tourists!. They have the most expensive toll roads in the world (not just the country), you cannot pay the toll you either have a transponder or they send a bill in the mail. If you buy a transponder it cannot be activated for over 24 hours and comes with monthly fees regardless of whether you use it. If you get the bill by mail it is 60% more expensive than if you have the transponder. Bottom line, if you are a tourist passing through, you are screwed. That really is extortion and should be illegal. And I am not talking about a private toll road, it is the US Insterstate!

Linda (@guest_198165)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheri Sicard

Get the Uni. It works in PA. No monthly fees

matski (@guest_198168)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheri Sicard

My EZPass Xtra which is now called Unipass works in all the eastern and midwestern states. 19 states in all.

Bob M (@guest_198222)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheri Sicard

Cheri Sicard is right about Pa tolls. Pa has the most expensive tolls in America. Gov Wolf and Penndot want to put tolls on a couple bridges on Interstate 81 & 80. Some of the money from the gas tax is used to pay the state police instead of fixing the roads. Pa has one of the highest gas and diesel taxes. Plus some countys have a hotel tax. Avoid Pa if you can. Pa charges a yearly fee on the transponder. We also have quite a few politicians that went to jail.

Mike Albert (@guest_198254)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheri Sicard

Hi Cheri,
I’m a little late in the conversation but we are traveling. I live in PA and in FL. Yes, PA has the highest gas taxes, a over budgeted turnpike/toll system and besides the (NJ) Garden State Parkway, the highest paid turnpike commissions in the country. Additionally, they are politically appointed. I have had EZpass for years and I also have Florida SunPass.
If you provide a credit card to the EZPass from the PA turnpike comm, there is NO yearly or monthly fee and the pass is free. FL SunPass required you to purchase either a sticker rfid pass or a windshield pass. They too waive monthly fees if you maintain a credit card payment with them. NOW, ezpass is accepted in fl where SunPass is accepted. I use the EZpass for the motor home And tow my Jeep.
Just make sure you check your monthly statements. With this being said, I avoid the PA Turnpike and use I-80. It runs parallel mostly and is more scenic and more places to exit for food, gas, etc… The EZPASS is used in most of the eastern US as of now. Hopefully it will be accepted across the US.
Hope this helps.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.