Every time I drive through a toll in Massachusetts and see cars backed up on the highway, I think to myself – Why doesn’t everyone have a Fast Lane pass? I’ve lived in Massachusetts my entire life and have always utilized the Mass Pike for getting myself in and out of the city. It always boggles my mind that people line up in the “cash” line and wait to pay their toll. I keep wondering if these people really have the extra 5, 10 or 20 minutes to sit and wait for the toll booth operator to collect their money?
It might take less time to go to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation website and click on the top link that says “Open A New Fast Lane Account” and sign up for a Fast Lane account, than to wait in line to pay cash for your toll. Best of all its FREE to get a transponder … you don’t find too many things in this day and age that are FREE, totally FREE!
The benefits of having a Fast Lane pass are:
1. You never ever have to stop your car at a toll booth again: As long as you reduce your speed to about 15 miles per hour, the toll booth transmitter will be able to read the transponder that is affixed to the windshield on your car and will automatically deduct the funds from your account. The most popular account that is offered is a credit card system that is linked to the transponder. You preload a specified amount of money into your account and when your balance dips below a predetermined amount, it automatically replenishes a specified amount from your credit card.
2. Additional discounts just for having a Fast Lane account: You automatically receive a $0.25 cent toll discount at the Allston-Brighton tolls (Exit 17 outbound/Exit 20 inbound) and a $0.50 cent discount at the Sumner and Ted Williams tunnels. Also if you are resident of Charlestown and/or Chelsea, look into the Tobin Bridge Resident Permit Discount Program for a discount on the tunnel. Or a resident of East Boston, South Boston and/or the North End, look into the Annual Tunnel Communities Resident Program for discounted tolls on the Sumner/Callahan and Ted Williams Tunnels. Certain restrictions may apply, but it would be worth your time to read through the policies if you are residents of those areas.
3. You may also be eligible for a credit on your Massachusetts individual tax return for a commuter deduction by using the Fast Lane service assuming that you are not reimbursed for your expenses through your employer. If you are a single individual (or if your tax status is married filing separately or head of household), the maximum amount of the deduction is $750/year. The way to calculate the commuter deduction credit is that you are responsible for the first $150 in tolls. Anything that exceeds the $150 up to a maximum of $900 in tolls will give you the maximum deduction of $750 in a commuter deduction credit. The credit is a dollar-for-dollar deduction (ie. $900-$150 = $750). In addition, if you are a married and file a joint return with your spouse, you are both able to take the deduction up to the maximum of $750 each! You will be able to print out the total amount of your commuter deduction off of the Fast Lane website as of the end of the year.
4. You can use your Fast Lane account in other states! Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Rhode Island for now all accept the Fast Lane pass – do I sense a road trip in your future?? The thought of never having to scrape some change together to visit another state is exciting. You never have to worry about carrying correct change on you again!
Whether you are from Massachusetts or not, I bet there is a sort of Fast Lane service that is provided by your state’s Department of Transportation. Would you use the transponder system to virtually never have to stop at a toll again? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section below!