Indiana to have I-Zoom transponder brand

March 21, 2007

Indiana Toll Road will be using a brand called I-Zoom for their electronic tolling, the concession company has announced. They asked for public suggestions for a distinctive Indiana brand late last year.

The electronic toll system will start coming on line early this summer in the barrier system in the west and be available on the ticket system by about the end of the year, officials say. They are hoping to have transponders for sale to motorists by May.

Indiana will be part of the interoperable E-ZPass system but the concession company decided they wanted a distinctive brand. This is similar to FastLane in Massachusetts, Smart Tag in Virginia and I-Pass in Illinois - other toll systems with full interoperability with E-ZPass but their own distinct brands.

Maryland once had M-Tag but dropped it for the E-ZPass branding. Maine had their own brand when their transponders were not interoperable but went to the E-ZPass brand along with their introduction of interoperability about two years ago.

West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, and six bistate toll authorities on the Delaware and Hudson Rivers all use the E-ZPass branding.

Ohio Turnpike will use the E-ZPass brand according to spokesman Lauren Hakos, when electronic tolling starts there sometime in 2009.

Branding dilemmas

Use of the E-ZPass brand has the advantage that motorists know they are part of an interoperable system when they are driving. They see the familiar purple Helvetica italic and know their transponder will work. No puzzles.

However since there are multiple issuers of E-ZPass transponders and multiple customer account centers the common branding creates confusion when the motorists want to talk to someone about their account or their transponder.

How do we contact E-ZPass people ask

We get calls every week from people asking who do they contact about E-ZPass. Often they aren't sure who issued the transponder which they just think of as E-ZPass. They have to go look at it to see if its E-ZPass Pennsylvania or E-ZPass New Jersey or whatever.

Whatever the brand they are all supplied by Mark IV IVHS and have been manufactured in a factory in an industrial park in Mississauga Ontario Canada under the flight paths to Toronto's Pearson Airport.

NOTE: when they asked for suggestions for the brand ours was GO-Hoosier as a pick up on Indianans beloved self-styling slang.

COMMENT: The I-Zoom brand is fun but probably not in motorists' best interests. The proliferation of brands for E-ZPass is likely to cause confusion at tolling points as to whether or not your transponder is valid and whether or not you can use the designated electronic toll lanes. This will apply both to E-ZPass account holders driving through Indiana and to some I-Zoom account holders driving outside the state.

Better, surely, to relegate any confusion to the home office than have it occur in the car.

A perplexed motorist wondering which lane they should be in is a hazard.

We fear that in their desire to be liked locally in Indiana the ITR Concession Company is pandering to local Hoosier sentiment by establishing the state brand I-Zoom.

There's an argument for having your own separate customer service center so you control dealings with customers. Delaware gave up on the New Jersey dominated Regional Consortium for E-ZPass precisely to establish their own customer service and by all accounts it was worked well. Delaware uses the E-ZPass brand but surrounds it with graphics that make clear it's Delaware E-ZPass.

ITRCC would have done better to have stuck with E-ZPass as their primary brand with the subscript: Hoosier Service and the telephone number or website of their customer service center. It wouldn't have had quite the same glitz as I-Zoom but it would have been safer and better for motorists. Ohio Turnpike are doing the right thing sticking with E-ZPass as their brand.

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