IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Cash is no longer king — at least on Orange County toll roads.
KNX 1070’s Jan Stevens reports starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, toll attendants on State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 will begin using high-tech electronic tolling to replace cash collection, which transportation officials say will make tolling faster and more convenient for more than 250,000 weekday commuters.
The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) will remove all cash and coin collection machines from the 51-mile network of roads after introducing four alternative forms of payment, including FasTrak, a transponder-based electronic collection system, and ExpressAccount, which links a driver’s account to a specific license plate number.
“Tuesday will be the final day to pay with cash on The Toll Roads,” said Lisa Bartlett, chairwoman of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency. “The removal of cash tolls is a trend throughout the tolling industry and we’ve surveyed our cash customers to provide new electronic payment options that will work for them.”
Customers who are already enrolled in FasTrak won’t have to make any changes to their accounts with the conversion to nonstop tolling, officials said.
More than 82 percent of toll road transactions are already paid electronically using FasTrak or ExpressAccount, while 13 percent are cash transactions, according to TCA officials.
Tuesday is also the last day of service for all Orange County toll personnel — including toll attendants, lead toll attendants, managers, and assistant managers — who are contract employees of Central Parking System, which operates about 700 parking locations in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Parking management officials said they would seek to find alternate employment options for the affected employees in other local company positions.
Rush Hill, chairman of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency, said some employees have worked at the toll plazas since they opened in 1993.
“We honor the service they’ve provided our customers and they have been part of the success of The Toll Roads,” Hill said.
Co-workers Sean Fox and Cheryl Birch met and became close at The Toll Roads.
“I’m gonna miss her and if I keep staring at her, I will cry,” Fox, who has collected tolls and managed the four pay roads for five years, said.
Fox is moving on to a job in Santa Monica, while Birch, a Dana Point grandmother, is for hire.
“I love him. It’s really been a pleasure. I think everybody here is one big family,” Birch said. “It’s not really sadness. It’s sad, but it’s knowing that all these memories are mine forever.”