SunPass Problems?

Remember back in June when SunPass went offline for a week for a major upgrade?  I have been hearing a lot of horror stories about problems with SunPass when the site came back online such as transactions not posting like they have should and the inability to add funds to your SunPass account among other things.

Right now a few of the problems with SunPass have been corrected such as the ability to add funds to your account as well as parking at Tampa International Airport using SunPass Plus.  But thanks to a squabble on the part of the contractor handling the SunPass upgrades, transactions since the day SunPass went offline in June weren’t posted but we’re seeing a little progress.

So, if you have a SunPass horror story – such as adding funds, toll transactions and customer service interactions to name a few – to share, I would like to invite you to share your experience by leaving a comment.  After all, the Florida DOT did a disservice to all SunPass users and there should have been a new and improved SunPass system when it went back online.

Got a SunPass? You might want to replenish it soon!

If you have that trusty little gizmo attached to the inside of your windshield that pays your tolls on the Sunshine Skyway as well as the Pinellas Bayway, the Selmon Crosstown Expressway, the Veterans Expressway/Suncoast Parkway and beyond within the great State of Florida called a SunPass, you need to read this blog entry carefully.  Beginning Tuesday, 5 June 2018 at 7 PM and continuing until Monday, 11 June 2018 at 9 AM system maintenance will be conducted which will affect how you access your SunPass account for balance inquiries, replenishments, account updates and more.

The good news is that you can continue to use your SunPass transponder to pay your tolls anytime throughout the SunPass maintenance period.  However, it is very important to make sure that your SunPass is topped off with sufficient funds as well as to make sure that your credit card is up to date if you are a SunPass EasyPay customer.  (SunPass EasyPay is where you keep your credit card number on file with SunPass and when your SunPass account reaches a minimum threshold, say $10.00, then your credit card is billed based on your auto-replenishment amount you set up in your SunPass account.)

Beginning on Tuesday, 5 June 2018 at 7 PM system maintenance will commence in which you will be unable to log in to your SunPass account as the SunPass website will be down throughout the maintenance period.  This also includes the SunPass app you may have on your smartphones as well as the activation kiosks at the Florida Welcome Centers and Florida’s Turnpike Service Plazas.  In other words, you will be able to use your SunPass to pay tolls but you cannot log in to your SunPass account during the maintenance period.

For those of you that use your SunPass to pay for airport parking at Tampa International Airport, during the SunPass maintenance window you will be unable to use your SunPass for airport parking.  The only exception is parking at Orlando International Airport.

If you plan on using any Tampa International Airport parking facility (Short Term Parking Garage, Long Term Parking Garage or Economy Parking Garage) just prior to or during the SunPass maintenance window, you will want to pay for your airport parking by taking a ticket given to you from the ticket dispensing machine as you enter the garage of your choice.  When you exit, take the ticket to one of the self service credit card only lanes to pay with a credit or debit card or to an attended lane to pay with cash.  SunPass will not be available for airport parking at Tampa International Airport during the SunPass maintenance window and your SunPass will not work as such.

If your SunPass account is set up for Easy Pay, if in the event your account runs low and your replenishment amount  is low, there is the possibility that your credit card on file may be charged to cover the tolls multiple times depending on your usage.  To prevent this from happening when the SunPass website comes back online on Monday, 11 June 2018 (and to avoid a potential telephone call from your bank or credit union’s fraud prevention team regarding multiple charges from SunPass), you will want to make sure that you have enough funds in your SunPass account and replenish as needed.

On the other hand, for those of you that don’t have a SunPass and need to get one, do so before Tuesday, 5 June 2018 at 7 PM.  SunPass transponders can be purchased at participating retailers and once you purchase your SunPass transponder, be sure to go online to the SunPass website and set up your account before 7 PM on Tuesday, 5 June 2018.

If you plan on renting a car and using your SunPass transponder to pay your tolls (and side stepping the often times high charges that rental car companies assess for tolls), plan on picking up your rental car and adding it to your SunPass account before the SunPass maintenance window on 5 June 2018.  According to the SunPass alert on the upcoming maintenance window, you will not be able to add a rental car to your account during the maintenance window but you can when the SunPass website comes back online and when you add the rental car the subscription can be back dated for the time period you have the rental car within the SunPass maintenance window.

Once again, SunPass will be conducting system maintenance from 7 PM on Tuesday, 5 June 2018 until 9 AM on Monday, 11 June 2018.  While you will be able to use your SunPass to pay your tolls during the maintenance window, you will not be able to access your SunPass account throughout that period.  The best advice we can give you here at the Interstate 275 Florida Blog is to keep your SunPass funded and replenish as needed to get you by during the SunPass maintenance window.

For more information, you may want to check the SunPass website.


Got a SunPass Transponder? You need to read this!

Ah, the trusty and reliable SunPass transponder.  You use it to pay for your tolls, not only on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge but on all toll facilities in the Tampa Bay region including the all-electronic Selmon Crosstown Expressway as well as the Veterans Expressway (which has recently converted to all-electronic toll collection) and the Suncoast Parkway.  In fact, you can use that same SunPass on most toll roads and bridges throughout the State of Florida including, of course, Florida’s Turnpike.
If you still have the battery operated SunPass transponder, this blog entry is for you!  According to a news release from Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise – the Florida DOT entity that operates most of Florida’s toll roads and bridges – your battery operated SunPass will no longer work after 31 December 2015.  What do you do?
You should have received either an email or a postcard from SunPass letting you know that you will need to swap out your battery operated transponder for a new non-battery operated transponder.  The email or postcard will have on it a replacement code – you will need it when you request your replacement SunPass transponder, so don’t lose it!
If in the event you lose your email or postcard, or if you still have a SunPass battery operated transponder and you have not received the email or postcard from SunPass, you might want to give SunPass a call at 1 (855) TAG-SWAP (that’s 1 (855) 824-7927) and explain your situation.
When you go to select your replacement transponder, you will have two choices:
1.  The SunPass slim transponder:  This transponder attaches to the inside of your windshield by way of built in suction cups similar to the SunPass hard case transponder you may have.  This transponder is portable meaning you can move it from car to car; this is helpful if you rent a car in Florida so that you can charge your tolls to your SunPass account instead of paying extra to your car rental agency for tolls incurred.  I highly recommend the SunPass slim portable transponder.
2.  The SunPass mini transponder:  This transponder is the stick on type where you stick it on the inside of your windshield.  The only major drawback of the SunPass mini is that it is not portable and once you take the transponder off your windshield your SunPass will no longer work.
Simply pick the SunPass transponder that will suit your needs.  Complete the information requested at the SunPass Tag Swap site and you should have your replacement transponder in no time!
Before you go onto the SunPass Tag Swap site be sure to log in to your SunPass account over at the regular SunPass website and check to see that SunPass has your current address.  If you need to update your address now’s a great time to do so.
Again, if you have a battery operated SunPass transponder you will need to swap it out soon for a non-battery operated SunPass transponder!  The battery operated SunPass transponders will no longer work after 31 December 2015! 

SunPass to be accepted outside of Florida soon

The SunPass. That little electronic gadget that attaches inside on your front windshield using the suction cups attached. It’s that little gadget that pays your tolls in Florida!

When you cross the Sunshine Skyway or use any of the toll facilities in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area (such as the Veterans Expressway, Suncoast Parkway, the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway or the Pinellas Bayway) or elsewhere such as the Florida’s Turnpike you probably know by now how SunPass is so convenient: No need to stop for the toll booth, especially when it’s raining as in Florida’s summer thundershowers that happen usually in the afternoon.

For us Floridians that like the convenience of SunPass not only to pay for your tolls and for your airport parking at select airports throughout the state including Tampa International Airport, you are probably asking yourself this same question regarding convenience if you take a trip to any of the 14 states in the northeast United States that have a similar electronic toll collection system called EZ-Pass. Right now if you wanted to pay your tolls electronically using EZ-Pass you had to get an EZ-Pass transponder from one of the member states in the EZ-Pass Consortium (such as EZ-Pass Maryland, for instance) and fund an account similar to your SunPass account back home in Florida.

Good news: Soon you will be able to use your Florida SunPass outside of the State of Florida. According to this article on the coming interoperability of SunPass with other toll agencies outside the Sunshine State I found on ABC Action News (WFTS-TV Channel 28, the ABC affiliate here in Tampa), within months the equipment will be upgraded to allow for interoperability of SunPass with the 14 states in the northeastern United States that belong to EZ-Pass.

What does this mean for you:

You will be able to use your SunPass when you travel on toll roads and bridges that are part of the 14-state EZ-Pass Consortium. Imagine in Maryland, you take a ride on the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore and you pay for your tolls using your trusty SunPass from Florida. Talk about convenience!

What does this mean for our seasonal visitors that come south to the Sunshine State for winter:

You got lots of places to use your EZ-Pass. Soon you will be able to use your EZ-Pass from your home state on the Sunshine Skyway when you come on down to Florida for the winter season. Talk about simplicity – no separate toll account to open and maintain when you come south.

In the meantime, you may want to check the SunPass web site or the EZ-Pass web site for the state that issued your EZ-Pass for updates on when both systems become interoperable. But once SunPass and EZ-Pass are interoperable it will mean convenience for you.

Now there’s another value to your SunPass. Now if only SunPass would achieve interoperability not only with EZ-Pass but with California’s FasTrak as well.

Reminder on Etiquette when approaching a Toll Plaza and Other Things

It’s the holiday season, and traffic is heavier than usual on the interstates and toll roads of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Unfortunately, I don’t like to say this but I have seen a lack of etiquette out there on the roads especially during the holiday season.

For instance, I took a side trip to Tarpon Springs recently when I was trying to turn left from southbound US 19 onto eastbound Keystone Road, which is undergoing a transformation from two lanes to four lanes from US 19 to East Lake Road (CR 611). Unfortunately, the protected left turn signal only let just a few cars through and the lane closures on Keystone Road was causing left turning traffic to block the northbound lanes of extremely busy US 19. As the left turn signal changed from green to red I had no choice but to stop and wait for the next signal to avoid being stranded out in the intersection as well as avoid a ticket for running a red light.

Unfortunately, a gentleman driving a SUV behind me did not like my careful operation of my vehicle in accordance with Chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw him making threatening gestures at me, including yelling at me apparently telling me to break the law so that he can get to the CVS Pharmacy on the southeast corner of US 19 and Keystone Road. Luckily, the man in the SUV behind me did not do anything more serious as there was a Tarpon Springs Police officer on eastbound Keystone Road waiting to cross US 19.

I cannot understand why the man in the SUV behind me had to be in a hurry for. Was it because he had to pick up a prescription at the CVS Pharmacy in a hurry? (Hey, CVS Pharmacy has late hours). Was it also that the man in the SUV was in a hurry to get Christmas shopping done? These questions I won’t know the answer to.

OK. Getting back on topic here.

Let’s say you are at a toll plaza and you enter the SunPass only lane by mistake. Or, you enter the Selmon Crosstown Expressway and you do not have a SunPass. What do you do?

First and foremost, do NOT stop or turn around – not only it is illegal, it is dangerous! Simply drive through the SunPass lane – your license plate will be captured by way of a photo image and you will be sent a bill for the toll(s) owed. Instructions on how to pay for the missed toll(s) are on the bill that you would receive.

In fact, here’s the perfect stocking stuffer you can get – a SunPass transponder and account for your vehicle. With a SunPass, you can pay reduced toll rates for those with SunPass transponders than those paying with cash. Besides, more and more toll plazas are being converted from the traditional method of toll collection to all electronic toll collection. The SunPass web site has more details including where you can go to pick up your own SunPass transponder as well as how to set up your SunPass account.

Now here are some more road etiquette tips for you motorists out there:

That conversation or business deal on that cell phone or smartphone can wait until you arrive at your destination safely. Same thing goes for texting too.

If you have to be at a place at a certain time (such as getting to your flight at Tampa International Airport or getting to work on time), please leave early. That way, you can arrive at your destination with even a few more minutes to spare!

Take it easy in those crowded mall and shopping center parking lots. In fact, why don’t you drop off your party at the front entrance so that you can park the car and then you can join your party inside at a predetermined location after you are settled in. Besides, everyone will be happy campers.

Handicap parking spaces are only for those with a handicap parking placard and are handicapped. If you happen to have someone’s handicap parking placard and you are not handicapped, don’t abuse the privilege.

Don’t speed or tailgate your fellow motorists out there on our highways in an attempt to be somewhere on time. Not only it’s against the law and you can get an expensive traffic ticket, you are also throwing money away on gasoline too. Besides, the money you save by not speeding or tailgating you can use it on Christmas shopping!

And one more thing: PLEASE DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE! Especially when New Year’s Eve rolls around, it’s much better to stay overnight – whether it may be a friend’s house or a hotel room such as the Hilton Downtown St. Petersburg (even if the rooms are pricey for New Year’s Eve) – than spend the New Year in the booking area of the Pinellas or Hillsborough County Jails. Besides, it costs about $20,000 when you factor in fines, court costs, attorney’s fees, etc. for a DUI – and we’re talking first offense DUI here.

So, enjoy the holiday season and beyond in 2012.

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