Monthly Archives: September 2013

Meet Layne, Our New Spokesperson

meet-layne-modalLayne is on a mission to let SoCal drivers know there’s a better alternative to sitting in congested freeway traffic.

Is the freeway really free or is it costing you?  Each year, the average SoCal driver spends 61 hours stuck in freeway traffic.  That adds up to more than $1,300 every year in wasted time and gas, not to mention the cost of vehicle wear-and-tear.  Driving The Toll Roads puts a stop to the stop-and-go and is the ideal solution for saving time, money and sanity.

Keep an eye out for Layne on the road, at events, in the news and on Facebook. She’ll be around with great tips that will change the way you drive in Southern California.

TCA Switchable Transponders Now Available

Switchable TransponderTo meet the needs of The Toll Roads FasTrak accountholders who use FasTrak® to pay tolls outside of Orange County, we are now offering switchable FasTrak transponders.  Switchable transponders can be manually set to indicate the number of occupants in the vehicle and are needed by qualifying carpools to receive a discount or drive toll-free on the new I-10 and I-110 ExpressLanes in Los Angeles. 

An existing FasTrak accountholder may exchange a standard transponder for a switchable transponder by submitting a request through TheTollRoads.com, visiting the Irvine Service Center or phoning the call center at 949-727-4800.

A FasTrak transponder is mandatory to drive the I-10 and I-110 ExpressLanes.  Drivers who use a standard FasTrak transponder will be charged the full toll whether or not they are carpooling.  A switchable transponder is needed to get the discount for qualifying carpools.

ExpressLanes_300x150On the I-110 ExpressLanes, carpools with two or more people, vanpools and motorcycles travel toll-free.  On the I-10 ExpressLanes, carpools with three or more people, vanpools and motorcycles travel toll-free.  Solo drivers can choose to use the I-10 and I-110 ExpressLanes for a toll.  All vehicles, regardless of the number of occupants, must have a FasTrak transponder mounted to the windshield per state law in order to drive in the ExpressLanes.

LA Metro, the operator of the ExpressLanes, also issues switchable transponders.  Metro ExpressLanes is a pilot, one-year demonstration program to improve traffic flow and provide enhanced travel options by converting High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.  Click here to visit the Metro ExpressLanes website to learn more.

The Toll Roads’ switchable transponders can also be used to pay tolls electronically on any tolled road, lane and bridge in California.

TCA/The Toll Roads Respond To Fitch Ratings Announcement

fitchYesterday, Fitch Ratings issued a press release regarding the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency’s (F/ETCA) outstanding debt.   While F/ETCA bonds had been on a “negative outlook,” Fitch now has now placed the bonds on “negative watch” while they monitor the agency’s efforts to refinance within the next three to six months.

The announcement is not a surprise.  It highlights the need to come to an agreement with Caltrans so that the refinancing can proceed.  The one thing slowing down the F/ETCA’s plan to refinance $2.4 billion in outstanding toll road revenue bonds, to take advantage of lower interest rates and lower its annual debt payments, is California’s transportation agency, Caltrans.  Click here to read more. 

Fitch notes that the F/ETCA’s various reserves for debt service are projected to remain healthy.  Fitch also recognizes that refinancing the agency’s debt to improve financial flexibility is a positive move.

1238295_10151896889601011_1213277395_nAll three rating agencies have given the refinance plan investment grade ratings and the California Treasure’s office, through its California Debt Investment Advisory Commission — issued a report that stating that “…the Agency’s restructuring is in the best interest of its bondholders, toll road users, and the general public.”

The next step is to finalize an agreement with Caltrans that will allow the F/ETCA to extend the ability to collect tolls the number of years necessary to pay back debt.

The F/ETCA has $2.4 billion in outstanding debt with an average interest rate of 6.09 percent and debt payments grow by an average of 4.4 percent each year.  The refinance plan could reduce the debt payment growth to 3.5 percent per year or less.  It is prudent to pursue a refinancing, just as thousands of people have refinanced their homes, to take advantage of historically low interest rates.

Use The Toll Roads App to Earn $30 in Free Tolls

App in phoneSeptember 1 through November 30, use The Toll Roads’ free app to sign up for a new FasTrak® account and $30 in tolls will instantly be credited to the new account.  The app is available in the Apple App and Google Play Stores.   To receive the $30 in free tolls, use promo code “Mobile30” at sign up. 

The Toll Roads recently released version 1.2 of its award-winning app.  The update allows users to establish a FasTrak account entirely from their mobile device while continuing to give FasTrak accountholders access to the same account and customer service features available on The Toll Roads’ website.

The app also allows users to:

  • View account balances
  • Make payments
  • Edit account information
  • Add or remove vehicles, including rental and loaner vehicles
  • Request additional transponders
  • Review recent activity

In May 2012, The Toll Roads became the first toll road operator in the nation to offer an app for toll account management.  To date, more than 44,000 customers have downloaded The Toll Roads App.  Click here to learn more.

All Electronic Tolling Contracts Awarded

The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) Boards of Directors have awarded contracts for the civil construction and consulting needed to convert The Toll Roads to all electronic tolling (AET).

scanners_2With AET, all tolls will be collected electronically, eliminating delays caused by stopping to pay with cash, searching for cash or fumbling for exact change.  In summer 2014, all users of The Toll Roads will experience non-stop driving and more time savings.

If you already have a FasTrak account, The Toll Roads’ conversion to AET will be seamless and uneventful – you won’t have to make any changes to your account or commute.  For drivers who currently pay with cash, there will be three new membership account types available to sign up for in early 2014.  Cash will continue to be collected on The Toll Roads through mid-2014.

The move to AET is a sign of the times — more and more consumers are moving away from paying with cash. Already, 81 percent of Toll Road customers use FasTrak.

Click here to learn more about AET.