I’m ready for an EZ-Pass smartphone application

I was driving across the Whitestone Bridge headed to Queens, NYC last night, and as I reached for my EZ Pass, (I don’t have it mounted on the windshield so as to not attract attention to it when parking in various places) the thought crossed my mind that it would have been great to just wave my BB Storm at the reader and travel on through.

I checked and the I-Phone does not have an app for tolls (like EZ Pass or Sun Pass) either. If Apple does not have an app then there’s no way Blackberry would have one. It would be a great thing to have however, and I can come up with many uses for a smartphone application to be used a toll booth throughout the United States. A few ideas:

#1 – You would be never to have to wait in the cash lane wherever you are driving in the United States. The different systems would be easy to integrate and funnel credit back to individual states and toll systems.

#2 – There would be no need to have the ugly EZ Pass or other box adhered to the windshield (another reason I don’t mount mine).

#3 – It would be easy to see how much is in your account without logging on (who does this anyway?). And can you possibly remember the tolls you are being charged for a month plus after it occurred when you read your statement – if you read your statement in the first place? You also would have an easy way to see how much you are spending in tolls. Expense reports including tolls would be infinitely easier to update for business people as well.

#4 – The need for toll takers would be even further reduced. At some point in the not too distant future nearly everyone will have a smartphone whereas not everyone has an EZ Pass or other electronic toll pass device (although I can never understand why as there are incentives for using the EZ Pass in the form of lower toll rates.

#5 – The amount of waste created by physical EZ Pass et al boxes would be eliminated.

Of course there are a few potential drawbacks in my scheme mainly in the form of loss of privacy. GPS would identify where you are at any time and it would be hooked into your profile (as opposed to a Magellan or Garmin or auto based GPS system). But it seems to me that people are already trackable already to a large degree – much more than they realize.

I’ve also been thinking about the ability for a speeding ticket to be sent to people who average more than the posted speed limit (this has been known to happen even to me unknowingly of course), by a certain percentage. That could happen now with EZ Pass but it might be considered circumstantial evidence. With an integrated smartphone toll application I think that excuse might be less available.

But I will raise my hand and say I’m ready to be first in line if someone creates a smartphone toll application. Even if it starts with EZ Pass and is not compatible with other systems initially eventually that would change as well.

Would you use an app like this if it existed?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver
This entry was posted in Customer Experiences, Living in the World Today and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to I’m ready for an EZ-Pass smartphone application

  1. Frank says:

    If you want to fund it, I’ll build it

    Like

  2. Bryan Kolterman says:

    Mark,

    As I was searching the internet to find out if this idea has been tested before I came across this blog post. It’s an excellent idea and I believe it has a lot of potential. I’d like to know if you’ve done any research on whether or not the EZ pass technologies overlap with smartphone technologies to make this a viable app. Look forward to hearing from you.

    -Bryan

    Like

    • markkolier says:

      Actually I did at the time Brian and there was nothing. EZ Pass national coverage aspirations and I suspect once that occurs and app will follow quickly. Thanks for reading and the comment.

      Like

  3. Kevin says:

    Does anyone know what system E-Z Pass uses to convert the transactions into charges to an account?

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  4. Sean says:

    Working on this as we speak…

    Like

  5. Sean says:

    I have been thinking about this for the last year..have you gotten any where with the app or business plan/model? I have App developers in Louisville, KY. Need help writing the plan. I researched the company that came up with SUNPASS which is similar to EZ Pass for the Fl turnpike.

    Would love to hear your progress or what walls youre running into.

    Thanks

    Sean

    Like

    • markkolier says:

      We’ve not been actively trying to develop the app. Am familiar with Sun Pass too. Don’t know if the various toll authorities would be open to colloborating and have not checked it out.

      Like

  6. skippi says:

    I was just telling my girlfriend today….I bet it won’t be long before iPhone has an app for Sun Pass. I think it’s a great idea and can’t wait for it to happen. And low and behold I came across this blog. lets make it happen!!

    Like

  7. SMTOLL says:

    There is no inherent loss of privacy in the system as there is no need to send any details of your travels anywhere. All the service needs to do is send the amount to be tolled via the smartphone, carrying out toll calculation based on gps records all in the device. As such, any GPS based tolling service would not compromise your privacy any more than you already compromise it by owning a GPS capable smartphone.

    Just a heads up on the common misconception on privacy vs tracking services.

    Like

  8. Slack says:

    There is a company In Dallas Texas that has tried to create this app and has a provisional while they test it! The app can be made, the problem is the state of Florida operates within sunpass, and they will have to change the entire toll system again with updated sensors and inferred so that all smart phones could be used. Since many dif phones carry many dif sensors depending on production company it will become an issue and a risk more than a solution at the moment! It is coming tho! Someone will write a program that will work with the system they already have in place. And I hope I can be a part of that team lol. TomorrowsInnovations.net

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    • markkolier says:

      Thanks for your interesting information and comment. We’ve been waiting for this for longer than I thought it would take. I’ve been asked many times that if I could fund it someone could build it – and maybe that’s true but as you point out there are logistical issues that supercede programming and development.

      Like

  9. PD1Ab says:

    We tried to develop an add-on radio for the iphone but the company in Canada that provides this technology has a monopoly and after they heard what we wanted to do, they did not respond anymore. Essentially, we proposed an EZPass “cradle” for the iPhone where the EZpass transponder is integrated into the cradle and the App displays the toll information and future toll stations connected to google maps. This type of App lends itself to many types of usage. If anybody is interested in this development, please feel free to contact me.

    Like

  10. trl says:

    Just talked with Apple/Mac Tech support. “The technologies are NOT compatible and it’s NOT going to happen”. 😦

    Like

  11. bob sanders says:

    What problem does this innovation solve?
    Why would one pay $5 example. For it?

    Like

    • markkolier says:

      Thanks for your comment Bob. If EZ Pass did not have to make transponders (or at least as many as they do now) and mobile devices could access the technology there should be mulitple benefits – lower costs for EZ Pass, more information for consumers as to account balances, upcoming tolls on the trip – even traffic information reports from points ahead on the road.

      Like

  12. Robin says:

    Great minds think alike…. I find myself driving my car up from Fla without my trusty FastLane (Massachusetts version of EasyPass) and dreading the GW Bridge tolls in the cash lane forgodsakes. So went and searched for an iPhone app, only to find that many have thought about it. I need it now!

    Like

    • markkolier says:

      Thanks for reading and for the comment Robin. I’ve been trying to find a way to make it happen but EZPass’s holding company is less than interested. Working on trying another approach but you are right – we all need it now!

      Like

  13. Doug says:

    Great idea! I thought of it too. Unfortunately, it looks like it\’s already being done – at least by one organization. I started to work on this myself, but decided that before I got too deeply involved, I should see if someone else had already done it. In addition to finding your article, I found that, sure enough, someone had, i.e., according to tollroadsnews.com. Here is the link to the article: http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/5321. This is not the ezpass system, but the approach would be similar. The article mentions using a QR, which is part of the app, to gather needed information to bill a person as they pass through the gate. This is similar to the UPC on an item in a store. This feature wasn\’t available when the article was written, but it may be now.

    Another approach is being used in CA: https://www.thetollroads.com/newsroom/pressreleases/archive/201205/pr_20120510_the_toll_roads_first_in_nation_to_offe.php

    So, it being done. As you stated, the more critical piece now is, \"not only – why didn\’t I think of that?\", but \"why didn\’t I make that happen?\".

    Also, I would add that a bit of due diligence is necessary to make certain our great ideas are as great as we think they are. Of course, even with this idea, there is a bigger picture (at least in my mind) which be the creation of a national system. But that probably wouldn\’t go over to well with the state systems – unless something is put in place to make sure each gets its piece of the pie.

    Again, get idea.

    Like

    • markkolier says:

      Thanks for reading and for your take on the subject Doug. I’ve tried to dig deeper into developing the application but there’s the issue of EZ Pass not being all that interested. But you’ve taken my idea and given it some scope and that’s appreciated. A national system is a good idea too.

      Like

  14. jack says:

    i was thinking for starters i can use an app that alerts me with my balance every time i falls below a certain level. or other user defined alerts, for me useing the app for actual toll pay is not useful as my battery is not always charged, additionally i don’t think any of today’s devices have the high speed – long range ability to process toll as the transponders do.

    Like

    • markkolier says:

      Interesting observation on transponder range Jack. Near field would not work. Had not considered that it’s possible a cell network might not be enough. Thanks for reading and for your comment.

      Like

  15. BostonChaz says:

    In Massachusetts, one has to go an RMV office, license and registration in hand, to fill out some paperwork all to pay tolls electronically. All I want is a device that lets me prepay my tolls either using a smartphone app or by going online and that I can buy at any gas station minimart. An Applepay app would be even better, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen in this technological backwater.

    Like

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