Some fellow in Northern California has a blog about personal finance called Lazy Man and Money. He recently took a trip to Dallas (and Fort Worth, and Longview.) Among his predictable recommendations (the Sixth Floor Museum, the Stockyards, Dublin Dr Pepper) and stranger picks ( Gator’s Croc and Roc?) comes a complaint about our system of tollways. But it sounds like some rental car company is trying to scam poor out-of-towners:
When picked up our car rental, the place tried to see us a $32 package of pre-paid tolls. We declined saying that we don’t know what tolls we’ll use, but we’ll pay them as we come across them. The rental place pointed out that there are several highways that no longer take cash. You rack up fines if you don’t have a transponder with the appropriate money in it… and you rack them up fast as each checkpoint is a $25 fine. I can’t understand two things. 1) Why not have one cash lane or people from out of town, technophobes, or just people with malfunctioning equipment? 2) Why have a pre-payment for something that you might not use? It wasn’t clear if we were going to get refunded this money if we didn’t use it. I tried to ask that and the car rental place didn’t seem to understand that we didn’t want to give them money for a service that we didn’t intend to use, but we would pay for services that we actually use. Unfortunately that wasn’t presented as an option.
As it turned out we found two restaurants that we wanted to go to, but couldn’t because of Dallas’ silly toll system. We tried to plan around back roads, but our GPS and Google Maps just gave us a response of “You can’t avoid that leg of your trip.”
The car rental place that Dallas was going in this direction with all it’s toll roads. Note to Dallas: You’ll be sinking tourists who don’t have reasonable access to your transponder system.
Is there a highway in the area that’s going to fine you for not having a Toll Tag?