Illinois i-Pass Rule Changes for Motorcycles

Like most Illinois motorists, I received an email from the Illinois Tollway Authority in December 2017, notifying me of a change in the iPass rules. The state in its wisdom had decided that every vehicle using the iPass system must have a working iPass mounted to it, or the vehicle would be charged the full toll price instead of the half-price reserved for iPass users.

As an Illinois motorcycle rider, and like most other Illinois riders I know, I had become comfortable and familiar with registering my motorcycle license plate to my iPass account and allowing the toll video feature to take a photo of my license plate and then charge my account. This system worked great for a number of years.

So, being the good citizen that I am, I went to their online link and purchased a new separate iPass to be used for my motorcycle. It arrived in January 2018. I registered it in my online iPass account to my motorcycle license plate. It sat unused until May 2018 when I started riding and using it on the tollways.

I had previously purchased a handlebar mount for the iPass at a website called Wrap ID Pass. I had the iPass mounted at the highest point on my 2008 Bonneville which is the handlebars. I also positioned the iPass inside the pouch/holder with the back side up, similar to how it is mounted when used inside on a vehicle windshield.

On May 22, 2018 I received an email, again from the Illinois Tollway Authority, stating that:

License plate XXXXXX has incurred more than five video tolls this month. As a result, for the remainder of this month, subsequent video tolls on this license plate will be charged at a full cash rate instead of the discount I-PASS rate.

So, being the responsible citizen that I am, I called the Illinois Tollway Authority the same day to get to the bottom of thie issue. The “customer service” representative took awhile to comprehend my issue. Once they did, they could offer no solution other than that I take the iPass to an authorized tollway office to have the iPass unit tested.

I did note to the customer service representative that it is highly unusual, and almost unheard of today for a customer purchase an electronic product, and then have to take it physically somewhere top have it tested! I can’t think of another situation where this occurs. No real response to that…. surprise!

So, I took the iPass to the Illinois Tollway Authority Headquarters at 2700 Ogden Avenue, Downers Grove, IL 60515 on May 23, 2018. The customer service person there, understood my issue more quickly, and took my iPass unit behind the counter and “tested” it. No surprise that it passed due as the expiration date on it was 06/26. The customer service person looked at my Wrap ID Pass, asked questions about how and where it was mounted. All she could come up with was that the iPass was mounted to near “metal” which blocks the signal. I pointed out that the entire motorcycle is made of “metal.”

She suggested that I put the iPass in my jacket pocket located up higher and away from the “metal.” She also gave me a new iPass in case the one she tested was, in fact, defective in some way. I rode home from that meeting with it in my pocket and it still did not register going through the toll booth.

I have some questions for the Illinois Tollway Authority:

  • Did you do the appropriate research to know that your technology solution would work on all validly licensed vehicles in Illinois?
  • Why would you select a technology that was highly “metal” sensitive, since all motor vehicles are mostly composed of “metal”?
  • What is the difference between mounting an iPass at the top of a windshield, inches away from a huge metal roof, to mounting it on the font highest point of a motorcycle’s handlebars?
  • What is to be gained by this rule change other than to require law-abiding citizens to jump through additional regulations, and to purchase additional items, and then to penalize them financially (ie, a tax) when that required system doesn’t work?

I am left to conclude that yet again, Illinois is determined to drive away, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens with yet another “tax” by making up regulations that don’t make any sense in the real world, and that don’t actually work.

It is way past time for me to exit this state!