I-PASS is the electronic toll collection system used by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA) on its toll highways that launched on November 18, 1993 with the opening of the Veterans Memorial Tollway. It uses the same transponder as the E-ZPass system used in the Northeastern US and the Indiana Toll Road, along with the future Cline Avenue Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal bridge.
I-PASS transponders can be used at all toll plazas, including those located on entrance and exit ramps. However, an important advantage to using I-PASS is that the main toll plazas have been rebuilt to use open road tolling so that I-PASS users can drive straight through the toll plaza passing under transponder antennas at normal speeds, while cash customers must pull off to the side of the road and stop at conventional toll booths.
As of the January 1, 2005 toll rate increase, there is a significant discount for I-PASS usage. In June 2005, I-Pass became compatible with toll collection on the Chicago Skyway.
If a vehicle registered with I-PASS passes through a toll collection without the transponder, the vehicle will be considered in violation, the toll will be considered unpaid & a $20 fine will be levied against the account holder, in addition to the cash rate (non-discounted) cost of the toll. Once the primary account holder accrues three violations, they will receive a notice of violation from ISTHA with a demand to pay. I-Pass account holders have a window of time to contact ISTHA & remedy the violation by having the cost of the unpaid toll deducted from their account balance & can have the $20 fee waived. IT IS UP TO THE ACCOUNT HOLDER TO CONTACT ISTHA. If the account holder fails to contact the tollway authority by the due date on their violation notice, additional fines will be levied, eventually leading to having their vehicles plates &/or the drivers license suspended. There have been many reports of fines escalating into thousands of dollars due to the account holders failure to act & contact ISTHA about the violation.
Users of the system can manage their account through the I-Pass website. Normally the system will keep a credit balance on-account for users, tied to a credit card and replenished as the balance drops below a preset threshold. However, a user can choose to manually replenish their account via the website. There are also I-Pass desks at many service plazas on Illinois tollways which can assist users of the system.
Tollways and bridges that accept I-Pass
All tollways that accept E-ZPass in the Northeastern US, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia also accept I-PASS.
Controversy surrounds the reciprocal use of I-PASS by Illinois motorists and I-Zoom by Indiana motorists on the other state's toll road. Each state charges the other a transaction fee when the out-of-state transponder is used to pay a toll. About 70% of all electronic transactions on the Indiana Toll Road are done with I-PASS transponders, according to Tollway Authority figures. Until January 1, 2010, the fee was absorbed, with I-PASS users paying twice as many Indiana tolls as I-Zoom users paying Illinois tolls. To address this imbalance, ISTHA began charging I-PASS users a 3 cent surcharge on each of their Indiana tolls, effective January 1, 2010.
As of September 26, 2005[update], I-PASS transponders are accepted for the payment of tolls on the E-ZPass system. I-PASS transponders cannot be used to pay for other services such as airport parking where E-ZPass transponders are currently accepted. In the case of older units, only car and motorcycle I-PASS transponders are compatible with the E-ZPass system, and other users with older units (e.g. semi truck operators) must swap their current I-PASS transponder for a transponder compatible with both I-PASS and E-ZPass. (The reverse — use of Northeastern state E-ZPass transponders in I-PASS facilities in Illinois — was actually working as early as May 2005.)
- Samuel, Peter (18 November 2013). "I-PASS brand celebrates 20th birthday in Chicago". Tollroads News. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- Benman, Keith (December 5, 2009). "3-penny drama plays out on Indiana Toll Road". Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- This article incorporates material from Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.