Environmental Justice Issues Related to Transponder Ownership and Road Pricing

Electronic transponders used on toll roads often reduce delays at toll facilities and sometimes offer customers a discount in the toll. Nonetheless, many people avoid using toll roads or acquiring electronic transponders. Their reasons include a dislike for toll roads based on a belief that roads should be a public good or on infrequent use of the roadway. Obtaining a transponder requires an application process and an initial prepayment of tolls as a minimum requirement. In worst cases, applications must be mailed (rather than obtained at a distribution center, online, or through a phone call), transponder deposits are demanded, and credit cards are required for automatic replenishment of tolls. In addition to the impediment of submitting an application, at least 20% of U.S. households do not have a credit card, and 10% do not have a bank account; such households would essentially be barred from obtaining transponders from most U.S. toll authorities. This paper analyzes these barriers by presenting the costs and benefits of the various toll transponder “tags” available in the United States in addition to models of toll road corridor users. Results show that higher-income households are more likely to have transponders and to use toll roads frequently. Other demographic and trip characteristic variables have less influence on toll road frequency choices but do influence transponder acquisition. Several agencies insist on large transponder deposits and initial prepayment amounts and require payment methods that are not available to a large percentage of the U.S. population.


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  • Accession Number: 01022722
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309094062
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Apr 9 2006 8:03PM