Don't get me started on toll roads.
As much as I love coming back to Central Florida, the region's dependence upon toll roads ranks near the top of my list of annoyances when visiting. (The airport's dire needs to expand bathroom facilities and to upgrade its food and TSA services lead that list, BTW.) Florida long has promoted itself as a low-tax haven, and the state's been able to do that in part by soaking its tourists with a variety of taxes and fees, including toll roads.
The days when Central Florida lacked the population to pay for the infrastructure that its tourists need are long over, as the Orlando metro area now has more than 2.5 million residents. But the people of Central Florida appear in no mood to tax themselves to pay the full cost of all the roads (and, heaven forbid!, mass transit) that the region needs, so the toll roads will be with us for quite a while.
But there is some relief for visitors flying through the Orlando International Airport this summer — if not from the tolls themselves but from the rental car companies that compound the pain with extra fees, surcharges, and penalties for driving on the area's often-inescapable toll roads.
The Central Florida Expressway Authority is offering a Visitor Toll Pass on a trial basis through August 1, for visitors picking up and dropping off rental cars at the Orlando International Airport. This trial program cuts out the rental car companies as middlemen between you and the toll roads.
To participate, reserve your pass online, then go to the Visitor Toll Pass counter in the rental care pick-up area on Level 1 in either terminal. The counter is open seven days a week from 9am to 1am. They will give you a tag that you will hang from the rearview mirror of your rental car. That tag allows you to avoid the cash lanes and drive through the electronic pass lanes on any Florida toll road... and it will charge you the lowest applicable toll rate, with no service fees.
That means that you can decline any offers for toll programs or transponder rentals from your rental car company. The Expressway Authority says that the Visitor Toll Pass can "save as much as 80% compared with rental car toll programs, plus an additional 23% on tolls by paying the electronic toll rate."
If you are headed to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, or other area attractions from the Orlando airport, it's pretty much impossible to get there in any timely manner without going on a toll road, so this pass provides the best deal to manage that trip if you're renting a car to do it. The program officially ends August 1, but seeing as though the Expressway Authority is promoting this as a trial, here's hoping that it might continue after that date.Tweet
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