While initially intended to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, cashless tolling will remain in place throughout the Illinois Tollway system on a permanent basis, the agency announced Thursday.
In a news release, tollway officials said a steady increase in cashless tolling nationwide has changed the industry, adding the initial shift to cash-free toll collection was "successful" in the state.
The Illinois Tollway first implemented all-electronic tolling in March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect customers and employees from the quick-spreading virus.
Affirming the decision to eliminate cash tolling, the Illinois Tollway revealed that in 2019 more than 92% of all transactions took place via an I-PASS or E-ZPass.
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To help ensure a smooth transition, the tollway has created the I-PASS Assist Program, which will waive the deposit on transponders and add an initial $20 in tolls to eligible low-income applicants. Those who have a household income below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines will be eligible. The program is expected to launch in May, officials stated.
Furthermore, the tollway will continue its 14-day grace period, which allows customers to pay unpaid tolls without additional fees or fines prior to being mailed an invoice.
"We remain committed to helping the state’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and these changes will put our agency into a position to continue providing a world-class transportation network that supports the entire regional economy," José Alvarez, executive director of the Illinois Tollway, said in a news release.