If you are planning on doing a lot of driving in Florida in and around your Orlando visit, you want to know about Sunpass Orlando.
Their website says… “Let Florida’s Turnpike and SunPass help guide you to your destination. Whether your travel itinerary includes spending time in Orlando, South Beach, Key West, or the Gulf Coast, SunPass, Florida Department of Transportation’s innovative Prepaid Toll Program, will help you save time and money when driving on our toll roads.”
What’s a Sunpass?
You will find that many of the highways, even those bisecting Orlando and heading off to airports, Cape Canaveral, Lake Apopka etc, are toll roads. Yup, get your dollars out as even a short distance – 10 to 15 miles or so – can cost dollars on some of the many Orlando area Turnpikes.
“Let Florida’s Turnpike and SunPass help guide you to your destination“? In people speak that means we’ve come up with a system that will allow you to drive on our outrageously expensive turnpikes and not even know that you are racking up dollar after dollar of expense since the Sunpass modem pulls cash from your Sunpass account faster than a pick pocket in a bazaar.
When they say “Prepaid Toll Program, will help you save time and money“, translated that means you won’t have to stop at the toll booth. Yep, hardly even know it when another dollar or two is sucked out of your Sunpass account.
Save you money? Hardly. The Sunpass costs. A lot. Sure, if you are a commuter in an around Orlando, and drive on the turnpikes daily, you can save a couple of percentage points off your monthly bill, but you have to spend a lot first.
For the visitor to Orlando, don’t acquire a Sunpass to save money. That ain’t gonna happen.
Sunpass Orlando Time Saving?
Oh, the time saving thing?
Well, each of the many Toll plazas have toll booths, of course. If you don’t have a Sunpass, or don’t even know what a Sunpass is, then when you reach the toll plaza, you will have to drive through the cash only lanes.
The problem with the cash only lanes on the Orlando and area turnpikes is though there are a number of toll booths in the cash only lanes, typically, only one of them is open. You, along with often dozens of cars and trucks, line up for quite some time while the single toll booth person takes money, makes change etc.
If you are far sighted enough to have a deep pocket full of quarters, there is also, typically, an exact fare toll booth that is fully automatic, provided you have the exact toll – in coins – to drop in the bucket. No exact change? Move over to the cash only lane and get in line, buster!
Why are all the other cash only toll booths empty?
One can only assume that since using the Sunpass means that those toll booths need no personnel to operate them, the drive is to eliminate the cost of employees. To prevent the cost associated with people earning a living as a toll taker on the many turnpikes in Florida. And, since only the cash-only lanes require a living, breathing person to operate them, and since the Florida Highway folks clearly don’t want to have employees if they can avoid it, the cash only lanes, again typically, have only one booth open with an employee in it.
So, the time saving thing? Yup, having a Sunpass will mean that you won’t have to stop at the cash-only booths, and that will save time, a lot of it.
Geez, I Can’t Get Off The Turnpike
Another little wrinkle in their drive to get as much cash out your pocket as they can is that, on some of Florida’s turnpikes, a number of the exit toll plazas will ONLY take Sunpass. Yup, don’t have a Sunpass? Don’t expect to get off there.
Remember “Let Florida’s Turnpike and SunPass help guide you to your destination“? If your destination includes exiting from the turnpike at a toll plaza that only takes Sunpass and you don’t have one, then you will have to stay on the turnpike, pay some more money for a drive you don’t want to take, and get off at the less frequent toll plazas that take cash!
Good luck with that.
Where to get Sunpass Orlando
If you are planning a lot of driving around Orlando and Florida, and you plan on using the turnpike system, then yes, it will ultimately be more convenient for your driving to have a Sunpass.
You may note that there is the odd CVS Pharmacy or Publix grocery store around Orlando? 🙂 They’ll sell you a Sunpass.
Or, you can contact the nice folks at the Florida Turnpike system office for one. Details below.
Make Sure You Have Money In Your Sunpass Account
You will want to visit the Sunpass website and figure out how much the tolls will be for a specific trip so that you can be sure you have enough money in your Sunpass account to pay for the tolls on a road trip.
If, while on a trip, you pass through a toll plaza and your account does not have enough cash in it to pay for that toll, you will still get through OK, but then… oh my, don’t go there! You’ll get the dreaded Unpaid Toll Document!
From the Sunpass site: “If you are a SunPass customer, receipt of an Unpaid Toll Document may mean one or more of the following: there is inaccurate license plate information on your SunPass account; there are no funds on your SunPass account; the transponder is not mounted correctly, which results in your transponder functioning intermittently. Just log into your SunPass account on the left, and the Update Account and Pay Toll Documents feature will guide you through the unpaid documents process. “
I have not gone through this process, but I expect that there will be surcharges on top of the missed toll charge.
The Sunpass site also says “SunPass customers now have the opportunity to replenish SunPass accounts with cash at nearly 5,000 retail locations throughout the state of Florida. This new convenient service puts you in the driver’s seat; add money to your account when and where you want. No credit card needed. ” Read the small print. The retail location will charge you an additional $1.50 “convenience fee”.
You can replenish your Sunpass account at the Sunpass website using a credit card.
If you are planning on driving around Orlando and the various other Florida Turnpikes, you may not like ’em, but you probably want to get a Sunpass. Here’s where you get more information: