Monthly Archives: November 2013

NONSTOP TRAVEL FOR ALL DRIVERS, COMING 2014

Photo Friday 22Soon, every vehicle will travel nonstop on The Toll Roads. In 2014, we’re closing the cash toll collection booths and converting The Toll Roads to all electronic tolling; which is a fancy way of saying that you’ll never again have to stop or wait in line to pay a toll on The Toll Roads.  While we are eliminating one way to pay, we are introducing four new methods of payment.

With five ways to pay tolls (FasTrak, three new ExpressAccount™ choices 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.

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.

Photo Friday 25For the nearly 80 percent of Toll Road drivers who already pay electronically, our conversion to all-electronic toll collection will be seamless and uneventful. FasTrak customers don’t have to make any changes to their accounts with the conversion.

Cash toll collection will be removed by mid-2014. Customers can sign up for FasTrak now or sign up one of the new ExpressAccount options in early 2014. To be added to our email list to receive the latest news, complete the form at: tinyurl.com/TollRoadUpdate

ExpressAccounts in the news:

No more toll booths: Orange County toll roads going cash free in 2014, Southern California Public Radio

Toll roads: No cash, no problem, The Orange County Register

REFINANCING OF $3.2 BILLION IN TOLL ROAD BONDS MOVES FORWARD

241 Beauty ShotWith the receipt of investment grade ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) is moving forward with the proposed refinancing of outstanding debt issued in 1999 – a plan that was approved by the F/ETCA Board of Directors on October 10. 

The Preliminary Official Statement was released on November 21 and the bonds are scheduled to be sold the week of December 9.

The refinancing is a good financial step that takes advantage of low interest rates to lower debt payments and it will allow for fewer and lower toll rate increases in the future.  Lower toll rates mean less congestion on free alternatives and improved traffic circulation, which is important for regional mobility and recovery of the local economy.

261 Beauty Shot“This is good news for commuters and recognizes the economic recovery that is occurring in Orange County and the surrounding area,” said Neil Peterson, CEO of the Transportation Corridor Agencies.  “The refinance plan provides the agency with greater flexibility to withstand future economic downturns which is the prudent thing to do.”

The F/ETCA manages and operates State Routes 133, 241 and 261.  Traffic and revenue on the 24 miles of roadway have been growing as the Orange County economy has strengthened.  For the first four months of the fiscal year (July through October), traffic has increased 2.8 percent compared to the similar period in 2012 and revenue is up 7.6 percent.

BREAD. MILK. EGGS. FASTRAK. GET IT ALL AT ALBERTSONS

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 6.23.54 PMThe Toll Roads have teamed up with Albertsons to make opening a FasTrak account even more convenient and accessible for Southern California drivers.  Soon, FasTrak transponders will be distributed at Albertsons’ service desks or other prominent locations within the store.

In the coming weeks, customers will be able to open a FasTrak account with The Toll Roads at participating Albertsons stores for $36. Once the transponder is activated at TheTollRoads.com, $40 in prepaid tolls will be automatically credited to the account. Customers who select to replenish their new FasTrak account using electronic check will receive an additional $5 in free tolls, amounting to a total of $45 in tolls in their new FasTrak account.

Be sure to add “free tolls” to your shopping list!

The Toll Roads New CEO Neil Peterson Reflects, Plans For Future

neil-petersonEvery journey starts with a single step and mine ended 1,200 miles later, when I moved my home base from Seattle to Orange County to become chief executive officer of The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA).

I joined TCA five months ago for the unique opportunity to collaborate with two boards of directors comprised entirely of elected officials and because I see The Toll Roads as a critical – but often overlooked and undervalued – lifeline for regional mobility in Southern California that gives drivers an express choice.

State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 are not just Orange County roads, they are Southern California roads that are critical for people traveling to and from Los Angeles, San Diego and the Inland Empire.  Roughly 80 percent of the trips that pass through our Windy Ridge Mainline Toll Plaza are made by people who reside outside of Orange County and 40 percent of TCA FasTrak® accounts belong to out-of-county drivers.

TCA’s history is unique, inspired and full of firsts.  Our public joint powers agencies were formed in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate The Toll Roads – 51 miles of roadway representing the largest network of toll roads in the state.  Built with virtually no taxpayer dollars, The Toll Roads were funded through the sale of bonds to private and institutional investors, and supplemented with development impact fees.  The bonds can only be repaid with tolls and development impact fees and since the bonds are not backed by the government, taxpayers will never be liable for repaying the debt.  We are responsible borrowers who have never missed a bond payment and have always had fully-funded debt service reserves.

Going forward, we will focus on improving our customer service; focusing on our customers who make a choice every time they drive The Toll Roads.  We will listen and do everything we can to attract more drivers to The Toll Roads because it is better for everyone on every road.

We will improve connectivity.  Direct connections from the 241 Toll Road to the 91 Express Lanes and from the median of the 405 freeway to the 73 Toll Road will further advance regional mobility and benefit all residents and commuters.

We will work diligently to find an alternative to Interstate 5 going south through South Orange County.  Today’s congestion in South Orange County is bad enough.  It will get worse with the addition of 55,000 new residents in the Rancho Mission Viejo development.  We need to find solutions that all interested parties can support.

And, finally, in 2014 we will eliminate the need to stop and pay at toll booths.  We will give all drivers the experience of non-stop driving, leading to more time savings and more predictability.

In my first 100 days, I met with employees, board members, supporters, opponents, the media and our customers.  I will continue listening, meeting, seeking, working, exploring, planning, learning and mapping out the future of TCA and The Toll Roads.  I hope that you’ll join me on the ride.  Our goal: to relieve traffic in both the short term and long term.

My best,

Neil Peterson