E-Pass 'Reload Lanes' now open

First of its kind in continental US

ORLANDO, Fla. – Thousands of drivers in Central Florida have a new way of paying their tolls.

The Central Florida Expressway Authority, also known as CFX, unveiled its new Reload lanes Wednesday morning.

The Reload lanes, which currently are only open at the Conway Toll Plaza on 408, are the first of its kind in the continental U.S., according to CFX Vice Chair and Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd.

"This is a pilot program for us," Boyd said.

The Reload lanes act as as drive-through service center, giving drivers the opportunity to load up their E-Pass or get a new E-pass at the toll booths.

"I think it's a great idea," said driver Pablo Alvarado, who physically had to go into the E-Pass service center on Goldenrod Road to get a new transponder. "Because you don't have to come stand in the line over here. You just go through and get it done.

But not everyone behind the wheel is behind the idea.

"I drive through the E-Pass every day and going through it quickly is the answer," driver Brett Tyrell said. "But if you are going to stop people, all you are going to do is cause more issues and more traffic and more accidents."

However, Boyd said they had no issue on day 1 of the new lanes. He said not only are they meant to be more convenient to drivers but it's part of CFX's overall drive to get SunPass users to switch to E-Pass.

The Florida Turnpike Enterprise, a division of the Florida Department of Transportation, oversees the SunPass. According to CFX officials, they say Turnpike's SunPass and the Expressway Authorities began charging each other to process tolls on May 1.

CFX said SunPass processing fees are more expensive than the E-Pass and adds there are more SunPass users on the road. That ends up being a $6.3 million bill E-Pass authority has to pay Florida Turnpike Enterprise compared to Florida Turnpike paying E-Pass officials $900,000.

"So we have to budget for that and cut costs," Boyd said.

Which is why Expressway authorities said they have discontinued discounts for SunPass users on its roads.

News 6 reached out to the Florida Turnpike Enterprise for a statement. Executive Director Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said the following:

"I am not aware of any agreement executed by Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, as a part of the Florida Department of Transportation, that requires the payment of transaction fees between FTE and Central Florida Expressway Authority beginning on May 1, 2016, or any other date. We have discussed the payment of transaction fees but there has been no movement on an agreement.

"It would appear from public announcements and media coverage that CFX will no longer give SunPass customers using CFX facilities and paying CFX tolls the benefit of their volume discounts. We respect that CFX must make the business decisions that they believe are in the agency’s best interest but we have not seen a decline in SunPass customers in Central Florida."

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