Florida to phase out write-back
Yet another over-elaborate toll system is on the way to the scrapyard. The Florida Turnpike plans to quietly phase down use of the write-back feature that has caused so much trouble in the operations of the Sunpass electronic toll system. Write-back to the tag memory and the ability of the customer to call up a display of their account balance was supposedly Sunpass big improvement on other electronic toll systems. However write-back has been a source of errors and malfunctions from the beginning, and customer viewing of the account balance has been a mixed blessing. Some customers like it, but it is an extra expense, a possibly dangerous distraction from driving, and a source of premature battery death. Worst of all the write-back to the tag has always had a high error rate because of timing and integration problems, leading to lost tolls ranging between 3 percent and 6 percent of total toll revenues big money.
An official at the turnpike enterprise told us the system is being re-evaluated and he expects Florida will increase its reliance on tags without displays. Related to that it probably adapt its system to reduce its dependence on data written back into tags, and possibly do away with the write-back entirely.
The Illinois Tollway launched electronic tolling some years ago with a similar system to Sunpass and abandoned it. The bells and whistles were a discordant element, and unnecessary, it found. TRnews 2003-06-15