MIAMI -(CBS4) – It is done, no more cash for tolls on the Florida Turnpike from the Miami-Dade County line southward.

Drivers who pass through one of the 37 toll plazas from the Broward County line to Florida City will notice something — there are no more human toll collectors.

That’s because on Saturday the toll plazas along the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike began collecting tolls electronically with SunPass, or through a “toll-by-plate” option.

Officials say drivers should be on the lookout all weekend for traffic delays while people get used to the new system and while crews remove toll booths.

“We’ll have multiple construction crews about 13 that will mobilize across the southern 47 miles of the Turnpike and begin the final conversion to cashless,” said Chad Huff with Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise of the Department of Transportation. “Electronic tolling is basically the future of toll collection.”

It means an added convenience for drivers, but several former toll collectors recalled the days of their now dying industry.

They shared their stories with CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. One toll collector recalled how she met her husband while collecting tolls.

About 270 employees have been affected by the electronic technology taking over their jobs. The newspaper reports that 60 people were reassigned, while others have retired or returned to school. Others simply didn’t know what they would do.

Ana Maria Silva is among those facing unemployment. She collected tolls and made change at the Northwest 41st street exit from the Turnpike.

“I don’t know what I am going to do,” she said.

But officials say a cashless system will make it easier for drivers.

“It’s going to make the road safer, it’s going to make traffic flow better and it’s going to be better for the environment,” said FDOT spokesperson Sonyha Rodriguez-Miller.

To automatically re-load their accounts when needed SunPass customers can link their accounts to a credit card.  They can also be re-loaded at Navarro Pharmacies and several stores.  Visit to find a location near you.

Drivers who do not have a SunPass will be will pay toll premiums ranging from 50 to 100 percent, depending on the toll location, as well as pay a monthly service charge of $2.50.  They will receive their bills in the mail.

At a Broward County Turnpike service plaza motorist Anne Lackey welcomed the advent of totally cashless tolls.

“I think it’s a good thing, to speed it up a little bit,” Lackey said. “I didn’t like stopping every five minutes to put a dollar in.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” said another driver. “I already have my SunPass.”

Many who drive the Turnpike are visitors from out of state, or tourists in rental cars.

The FDOT’s Rodriguez-Miller said rental car companies will offer customers “toll packages” to cover their tolls. The tolls of rental customers who don’t purchase the coverage and still use the turnpike will be billed to the rental companies, Rodriguez-Miller said.

As for drivers from out of state who use the turnpike, they will be billed by mail like other “toll-by-plate” users. The FDOT estimates at least 70 percent of out of state drivers who receive bills will pay up, and that only two percent of those who drive the Turnpike extension are from out of state.

Overall, the FDOT says it collects more than 95 percent of the tolls it bills for.

“The vast majority of our customers are very honest,” Rodriguez-Miller said.

Demolishing the manned toll booths and lanes with change baskets and converting them to electronic tolling is expected to cost about $58 million.

The FDOT says the eventual goal is to make the entire Turnpike a cashless toll road.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

Comments (9)
  1. Lena Cheeseman says:

    this may speed things up but it seems to me there should be a cut in tolls, especially since all of those toll workers don’t need to be paid now.Also I thought this was a temporary thing to help pay for road improvements, now we must pay forever. crazy

  2. LeeRoy says:

    I rented a car from Dollar and drove to Key West, returned to Miami airport, Flew to Indiana. When my credit card statement came I had a bill for the rental car plus $177.00 fine for not knowing about the “cashless toll booths” Way to welcome visitors to the Sunshine State!!!!!!!

    1. Dan says:

      It will be a cold day in HE -Double hockey sticks the next time I go to Florida!

  3. Steve says:

    Its a rip off for all Dollar customers, you have the option of paying Dollar for Pass24 at a cost of $6.99 per day, in my case where I’m renting for 18 days that works out at $125.82.

    I will use the turnpike from Miami to the Florida Keys once each way, so the $125.82 isn’t really cost effective when the tolls would have been around $4 each way before, on the rental agreement it states;

    “If you choose not to select the Pass24 Pre-paid Tolling Option and do travel on one of these All Electronic Toll roads, and do not have your own tolling device in the vehicle, the applicable toll will be paid for you and an administrative fee of USD 25.00 will be added to each toll utilized.”

    Note “each” so they pay the tolls of $8.00 and from memory thats 4 tolls, add the admin charge and it takes me up to $108, not very good at all, Dollar makes money either way.

    I’d say that sucks big style and something needs to be done about this extortion, I’ll be getting the bill for my April trip soon and as I’m off again in May I’ll be getting another, its bloody anoying!!!!

    1. Mike says:

      Same thing just happened to me. I just took surface streets on the drive down, but didn’t really feel like starting my trip back at 4 in the morning. I called Sunpass to see if I could give them a CC# to pay for the tolls before they sent the bill to Dollar and was told that wasn’t possible. So my only options were to get extorted by Dollar for $36 for a weekly pass when my total toll bill would have only been $8, have a 5 hour drive each way and go through some really scary neighborhoods (like the scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation). I guess I’ll just wait for the $104 dollar bill on my CC now. Definitely will never rent from Dollar again!

  4. Steve says:

    I’ve been visiting the Florida Keys to go fishing for around 6 years now, I usually come in April, May and October for between 11 and 20 days on each trip, thats 3 trips/year.

    This year when I visited I was surprised to find out that there was automatic tolling in place between Miami airport and the Keys, now I used to pay a total of $2.25 each way, so thats a total of $4.50 per trip, Dollar car rentals have always offered an option to hire one of their Pass24’s for pre paid tolls at $6.99/day, its never made sense to take this option as one day costs far more than the $.40 toll, indeed even over a 11 day visit its $76.89 and on a 20 day visit $139.80, in the past I’ve never found slowing down at the toll booths to be an inconvenience.

    So I arrive in April to find no toll booths, I spoke to my fishing guide about this and he told me they’d converted it all but he wasn’t sure how it got paid, I checked when I got back home and found out that the toll company bill Dollar directly and that Dollar add a $25 ‘admin fee’ for each toll, when I received the notification from Dollar a month later the total toll charges were $1.75 and the admin fee $100, I’m still waiting for the notifications for the May trip, but going on the one I’ve had I expect to receive another 3, making a grand total of $407, quite a leap from the $18 I’d usually pay.

    What annoys me is the total lack of sensible payment options if I want to use the toll road now, I could have either coughed up $216.89 for a pass24, pay the $407, take another route, or simply go elsewhere for my vacations, as a frequent visitor to your fine State I find that outrageous and I’m sure I’m not the only tourist from the UK thats being penalised in this way. I tried to buy a Sunpass online, but if you don’t have a vehicle registration you can’t buy them, also the site only appears to deal with residents of USA and Canada.

    This makes a very bad impression on everyone that visits from overseas, myself I am so annoyed about the situation that I’m considering going elsewhere in the future, maybe Cuba or Mexico. I’d estimate that I spend around $40,000 a year on fishing guides, food accommodation etc.

    I think that us tourists are being taken for a ride.

  5. Ricardo Silva says:

    I travel to Florida in March 2011 and rent a car in DOLLAR, They just said “if I went to Orlando for the Turnpike would need a SunPass”, but since I had no plans to go to Orlando, do not take the option of SunPass because only going to be in Miami and its surroundings and, if I went to Orlando, would take the I95. No body told me about Tolls by plate and the ADMINSITRATIVE FEE!!! It could be in the contract, but… who reeds those little words???. Recently I got a Dollar charging $ 305.24 for violations of Tolls (924 & 856 SR), which were 5.24 for Tolls and 300 administrative fees … They could not charge the amount on my credit card because in my country, government block international use of credit cards at the end of our trips (Venezuela / Currency Exchange Control). So I have a bill pay for $ 305.25 I belive that $ 300 for administrative fees are inconsiderate to uninformed customers. SunPass must be mandatory in car rental contracts, and customer must be informed about that before pick up the car.

  6. JM FITA says:

    Toll by plate is a huge fiasco. I used a toll by plate ‘booth’ 1 time. The toll should be $1.00. Instead I got an invoice for 5.50. They say I had a ‘late charge’ even though this was the 1st letter I received. Ok, so not worth fighting over a few bucks. I pay it. Then a month later I get another invoice saying, ‘previous bill 5.50. Amount paid 5.50. Administrative cost 3.50. Amount owed 3.50.” How on earth do I owe another 3.50 for paying the bill? And try calling those people…. the overworked robots answering the phones don’t help you at all.

  7. FLsucks says:

    you can buy a sunpass sticker at walgreens or CVS pharmacy for $5 and stick it on your windshield…load the card prior to leaving and remove the sticker when you are done….save it for anotehr trip