The number of people using the Sunshine Skyway Bridge increases every weekend and on holidays.
- Two types of toll roads in Florida: Traditional and toll-by-plate
- Skyway drivers without SunPass card clog cash-only lanes
- All-electronic tolling being studied for Skyway
- Traffic Inbox suggestion for Chuck? Email him
Many of those folks are visitors, and without a SunPass card they can jam up the cash-only lanes, creating huge back-ups.
Dale Tindall saw an example of that during Easter holiday weekend. His "just the truth" style is well known with transportation planners in the Bay.
"On the way back, I looked at my GPS and it says there's a three-mile back up," Tindall said.
The majority of Skyway drivers were visitors without a SunPass, choking off SunPass users from their usual fast pass through the plaza.
Tindall believes if all of the drivers knew they could use all of the lanes, that type of delay would be a thing of the past. The Skyway tolling system can take a picture of a car's tags in the event someone doesn't pay.
"It would be just putting two signs up that says, SunPass and toll-by-plate," he said.
There are two types of toll roads in Florida: The traditional cash and SunPass lane variety like on the Skyway, and the toll-by-plate roadways, like the Selmon Expressway.
On a toll-by-plate road, cars pass under the SunPass readers at the posted speed limits. There is no cash accepted on those roads. Anyone without a SunPass is sent a bill based on the address associated with the car's tags.
Drivers in the SunPass lane have to slow down to 25 mph to be sure the reader sees the SunPass.
It's that system that stands in the way of Skyway drivers using any lanes to pay the toll.
The readers aren't advanced enough to consistently capture a tag number or to process those images to generate a bill. The short answer is the Skyway would lose money.
Chad Huff, spokesman for Florida's Turnpike, said there is a system in place to handle the small number of cars that end up in the wrong lane.
"As a courtesy, toll invoices are sent to motorists who mistakenly enter a SunPass lane without an active SunPass account," Huff said.
The Sunshine Skyway is currently being studied for conversion to all-electronic tolling.