Several readers said the tolls were too high, while others argued that removing the cash toll booths would lower ridership by making the system more confusing.
On Friday, Lori Olin with TCA communications & public affairs sent the following response:
Thanks, Patch readers, for your feedback, suggestions and for allowing us to clear up a few misconceptions.
We are almost halfway through the 2014 Fiscal Year and transactions are up by almost five percent while revenues have increased by nearly seven percent. As the economy recovers, we all do!
And, contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that reducing tolls does not increase ridership enough to positively affect revenue. In other words, if we were to lower tolls we might gain some additional drivers, but not enough to increase revenues. And, as responsible borrowers we have an obligation to pay back the toll revenue bonds that financed construction of the roads when the state of California couldn’t.
Until then, we are proud to offer a reliable commuting choice. Every day, more than 250,000 trips are taken on The Toll Roads, taking vehicles off of Orange County’s already-congested highways and arterials. That’s good for everybody on every road.
Since 2010, we've been carefully researching the latest and most advanced toll collection technologies to improve your experience on The Toll Roads. After conducting consumer surveys and focus groups, we found that -- in addition to FasTrak -- drivers want more, easy ways to pay without stopping. So that's what we're providing.
While we are removing cash toll collection from the roads in May, we have introduced four new methods of payment. Now, with five ways to pay tolls (FasTrak®, three new ExpressAccount™ types and a One-Time-Toll™ option), there's a custom payment method that will work for every driver - regardless their method of payment, when they want to pay their toll and how much of California they intend to explore.
FasTrak continues to be the preferred method of payment on The Toll Roads – with 81 percent of drivers using it to pay the lowest toll rates and having the flexibility to use FasTrak to pay tolls electronically on all other tolled bridges, lanes and roads in California. For FasTrak drivers, the conversion to all-electronic toll collection will be seamless and uneventful. FasTrak accountholders don't have to make any changes to their accounts with the conversion.
The new One-Time-Toll payment option was created specifically for area visitors and infrequent users of The Toll Roads – who can now simply drive The Toll Roads and, within 48 hours, go online to pay tolls. There is no account setup and no transponder, just a stress-free, traffic-free, stop-free drive. As always, you can add the license plates of out-of-towners or rental vehicles to your FasTrak account or ExpressAccount to accommodate guests.
Learn more about The Toll Roads’ conversion to all-electronic toll collection; sign up for FasTrak or one of the three new ExpressAccount types; or make a One-Time-Toll payment on the The Toll Roads’ recently-refreshed website (TheTollRoads.com).
Finally, please be careful on the roads. We’ve heard that some Patch readers don’t like the presence of law enforcement on The Toll Roads. We assure you that they are there for your safety, as they are on all other roads owned and maintained by the state.