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Chicago Fed Letter, No. 225, April 2006
Inducing More Efficient Payment on the Illinois Tollway

All vehicles were required to come to a full stop at many toll plazas and pay with coins or dollars. To combat fraud and improve efficiency, in 1993 the Illinois Tollway introduced an electronic payment option—a radio frequency identification device (RFID)—brand-named I-PASS. Cars equipped with an I-PASS have the correct toll amount deducted electronically upon passing through specially equipped toll gates. RFID technology has now improved enough to allow I-PASS payments while traveling at highway speeds. Such “open road tolling” is effective in reducing the congestion that often occurs near toll plazas. However, its success requires a significant capital expenditure by the Tollway, as well as a critical mass of motorists ready to use it.

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