E-ZPass brand to Indiana - Toll Road Company dumping i-Zoom
By Peter Samuel
2012-07-19: i-Zoom the local marketing term for electronic toll transponders sold in Indiana is being dropped in favor of the better known E-ZPass brand. (see announcement nearby) All new transponders issued by the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC) will be branded E-ZPass with the familiar logo in purple Italic Helvetica Heavy. Signage will of course be progressively changed too.
Since electronic tolling began in Indiana April 1, 2008 with i-Zoom the ITRCC system has been fully interoperable with other E-ZPass Group toll agencies. i-Zoom brand transponders are used to pay tolls in what is now a network of some 24 toll agencies in 14 states. Likewise all those agencies' transponders regardless of their branding have been capable of paying tolls on the Indiana Toll Road - "interoperability."
22 million transponders or tags on 13 million accounts of the 24 toll agencies in the E-ZPass Group collect about $5 billion in tolls each year.
The Group head-officed in Wilmington Delaware claims to run the world's largest and most successful interoperable electronic toll collection system. E-ZPass Group states extend from Illinois to the Atlantic coast and from Virginia north to Maine.
Having been fully part of the E-ZPass Group all along the retirement of the i-Zoom is a name change - a rebranding.
But branding matters. It's a powerful means of conveying information to motorists. It says: "Your tag works (or doesn't work) here."
Others had separate brands
Indiana follows Maine, Maryland and Virginia who in the past decade abandoned a distinctive state brand for the better known E-ZPass brand.
Maryland always part of the E-ZPass Group and interoperable had an M-TAG branding with its initial tolling of the Baltimore Harbor tunnels. It dropped M-TAG for the E-ZPass brand in 2001. (CORRECTION)
Virginia initially planned to go with a Swedish 2400MHz Combitech transponder but cancelled that contract to go with the 915MHz technology selected by the E-ZPass Group and developed by the Mark IV company out of Mississauga Ontario (Mark IV is now part of Kapsch, as is Combitech).
Virginia branded their transponders FASTOLL at one point. But some suggested this encouraged speeding. Plus a long since forgotten "ITS" program got funding with the title Smart Traveller, so they changed to Smart Tag. They joined the E-ZPass program in 2004 and rebranded to E-ZPass in 2007.
Maine started electronic tolling with the brandname TransPass. Initially they used AT/Comm technology, but after several years dumped that for the Mark IV E-ZPass equipment. On the changeover of equipment they rebranded to E-ZPass. Maine rebranded February 2005.
Remaining separate brands within the E-ZPass Group are Illinois (I-PASS) and Massachusetts (FAST LANE.)
E-ZPass has various sub-brands:
1. E-ZPass Plus used at a number of major parking facilities for payment of parking fees including Kennedy NY, LaGuardia NY, Newark Liberty NJ, and Atlantic City.
Different brand names suggest different functionality, different rules and raise questions about interoperability. The confusion they cause defeats the rationale for branding. It is usually done to pander to the ego of local officials.
2. E-ZPass Flex a switchable transponder for HOT lanes that can be switched to High Occupancy when eligible for free rides or T for toll when the vehicle occupants don't qualify for the free ride - to be first used this fall on Transurban's Capital Beltway 495 Express Lanes
3. E-ZPass-on-the-GO a brand for a pouch package of a tag with prepaid tolls and sold in grocery stores, gas station, DMVs or online.
There will be a whole new branding challenge shortly with moves for national interoperability as efforts are made to tie together E-ZPass with Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, California and Washington state toll systems. Most of the big established systems seem certain to maintain their existing toll technologies at least initially, so branding will get more complicated.
HISTORY: The E-ZPass Group traces its history back to 1990 when seven tollers from three states formed the Interagency Group and adopted the brand E-ZPass. The seven were the New Jersey Highway Authority (operator of the Garden State Parkway), the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the New York State Thruway Authority, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ,) the South Jersey Transportation Authority (operator of the Atlantic City Expressway), and MTA Bridges and Tunnels, New York City.
They were slower than the south.
Texas' Dallas North Tollway, Crescent City Connection Bridge New Orleans LA and Coronado Bridge in San Diego were all earlier than E-ZPass in getting electronic tolling implemented. But with so many closely connected facilities the E-ZPass group in the northeast had a more complex network to manage - more immediate pressure for interoperability.