AUBURN – Holders of the Maine Turnpike Authority’s Transpass toll-taking card should keep their eye on their mailbox.

The authority officially switches from the Maine-only Transpass to the E-ZPass system used in eight other states on Feb. 15. The authority has started sending out brochures and applications to 80,000 Transpass users.

“It would be great if we could just transfer those users over – just move their Transpass information over to E-ZPass,” said Dan Paradee, authority public affairs manager. “But they are two different systems and that just won’t work.”

The brochures are being assembled and mailed out of Lewiston’s Faithworks and should begin hitting mailboxes around the state in the next few days.

E-ZPass will let Maine subscribers use their cards on turnpikes in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia. Subscribers from those states will be allowed to breeze through Maine tollbooths as well.

Maine’s current Transpass system has been operating since September 1997. Users pay to open an account with the authority, and tolls are deducted each time they drive past the tollbooth. Radio signals at the booth bounce off of an electronic receiver in the pass.

E-ZPass uses a different frequency, but Paradee said that’s not a problem. The authority finished installing E-ZPass readers in all Maine tollbooths on Nov. 10.

“So the E-ZPass system is running the Transpass information now,” Paradee said.

Program requirements are not so compatible, however. For example, Transpass users need to create an individual account for each Transpass. As many as four E-ZPass users can use the same account. The passes are more expensive, as well. Transpass users paid $15 for the electronic passes. E-Zpass users pay $25 to buy windshield-mounted passes outright. Passes that attach to license plates cost $30.

“We want people to send in their E-Zpass applications as soon as possible, and we’ll get them set up,” Paradee said. “For a while there, they’ll have both. And then on Feb. 15, we’ll make the switch and refund them anything that was left in their Transpass account.”

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