Increases are system’s first since 2006
2013 marks a year of transition for Central Texas toll roads and the drivers who use them.
Beginning Jan. 1, toll rates on SH 45 N, SH 130, Loop 1 and Toll 183A at all of the mainline plazas and most of the entrance and exit ramps have increased. In addition, the Texas Department of Transportation removed all of its cash payment booths, instead requiring motorists to pay fees through TxTag accounts or pay-by-mail billing.
Toll rates on SH 45 N, SH 130 and Loop 1—roads that make up the Central Texas Turnpike System, which TxDOT owns and manages—saw an average increase of 25 percent–30 percent, TxDOT spokesman Mark Cross said.
“The rate changes are different at the different locations,” Cross said. “We are trying to keep [toll]costs in line with state and regional rates.”
All of the toll rates along Toll 183A, which is managed by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, also increased Jan. 1 by a comparatively moderate 1.99 percent.
“The increase is part of a Mobility Authority policy that adjusts rates annually in line with inflation to avoid larger increases every five years,” the Mobility Authority said in a Jan. 1 news release.
The TxDOT toll increase for CTTS roads was the first since the system came on line in 2006, TxDOT spokeswoman Kelli Reyna said. The Texas Transportation Committee approved the increase to rates Aug. 30. The TTC also set into place an annual toll rate escalation policy that will allow TxDOT to raise its rates every year based on the percentage increase to the local Consumer Price Index as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Essentially, the toll escalation policy allows TxDOT to increase prices in conjunction with the average price increase of local consumer goods.
“It is an annual escalation policy,” Reyna said. “By October 2013, we will propose new  toll rates.”
Reyna said TxDOT eliminated the cash plazas along CTTS tolls in order to increase safety, speed up traffic and reduce costs. She said only 10 percent of the toll fees collected locally were through cash payments.
“The cost to maintain [the booths]wasn’t worth keeping the cash lanes open,” she said. “The price of purchasing rights of way, maintaining the cash plazas and paying for people [to staff booths]was not providing the cost benefit.”
Reyna said TxDOT expected to save approximately $8.5 million annually by eliminating the cash payment lanes on CTTS roads.
Cross said most of the former toll collectors were contract employees who would likely be phased out once their current work agreements expired.
“It is possible some may still stay on in office support positions, but most will be phased out,” Cross said.
Toll customers who wish to pay tolls in cash still have the option of setting up TxTag accounts at the TxTag Customer Service Center in Austin, Reyna said.
Want more information about TxTag?
Customers can set up accounts and ask billing questions in person, online or by phone.
TxTag Customer Service Center, 12719 Burnet Road,, Austin, 888-468-9824, www.txtag.org