The prices of some of the toll roads in Central Florida are about to go up. Way, way up. As in, nearly two times what tourists may be paying now. Here’s what’s going to happen and how you potentially may be able to pay the “old” rate.
Central Florida has several toll roads. 9 of them are run by the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX).
A small handful of toll roads, most importantly the Florida Turnpike, are under the jurisdiction of the Florida Department Of Transportation (FDOT).
And there are some roads that are co-run by both. So you could be headed south on the 417, going from MCO towards Walt Disney World, or taking the 528 to get to The Disney Cruise, and all of a sudden your road has gone from the jurisdiction of one to that of the other (see the purple and green roads below).
But back to the tolls.
Each toll has 3 potential rates:
- Electronic rate (where you have a transponder, sticker or hangtag that’s attached to your preferred form of electronic payment)
- Pay-By-Plate (you don’t have a transponder etc. but go through the electronic toll. A camera takes a picture of your license plate and you get billed that way)
- Cash (only at manned toll booths)
Last fall, the CFX voted in favor of increasing the rates for drivers who use Pay-By-Plate. That increase goes into effect on July 1, 2020. At that time, the Pay-By-Plate rate will go up to twice that of the electronic rate (it’s currently the same price as the cash rate, plus 20 cents). Here’s a PDF of the current (as of July, 2019) prices. Here are the prices effective July 1, 2020.
Cash and transponder rates will remain unchanged.
How Might This Affect Tourists?
Many (but not all) rental car companies use a “pay by plate” system (click here to see which ones). At this time there’s no word if the new CFX pricing will be passed on to car rental companies (who would, in turn, pass them on to you) but I would be surprised if it wasn’t.
How Can You Avoid This?
There are a few ways you may be able to avoid this:
- The “no brainer” avoidance is to set your GPS to avoid toll roads. You may take some roundabout routes with lots of traffic lights, and get stuck in some nasty traffic, but you won’t have to worry about paying any tolls.
- Where you drive makes all the difference in the world. Some tolls in Central Florida are manned 24/7, some are never manned, and some are electronic (read: transponder or Pay-By-Plate) only. As a general rule of thumb, if you avoid the CFX roads of the 429, the 417 north of the 408, and the 528 east of MCO, you shouldn’t hit any CFX “electronic only” tolls (although they could have built some recently and I don’t know it).
- You can purchase an E-Pass transponder and then pay E-Pass rates (which are usually an average of 23% lower than cash rates).
- CFX did have a Visitor Toll Tag option at MCO that offered tourists the same discounted prices as an E-Pass transponder. Originally intended to be a pilot program that would last just a few months, it was then extended for a year. The popular program was supposed to last until sometime in July 2020 but was shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19. No word if or when the program will ever start up again, but you can check this page for updates.
- Do you have an E-Z Pass? E-Z Pass can be used at some Central Florida tolls.
Feature Photo: CFX
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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