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I drove through some bridges and tunnels in Seattle, some of which had a toll fee levied by the Good to Go toll collection system. When creating a "Good to Go!" account, I see on https://mygoodtogo.com/EN/account-conversion/passes:

We recommend getting a Good To Go! pass for every car on your account. If you drive on a toll road without a pass, you’ll be charged an additional 25-cent fee for each trip.

What's the point of having a Good To Go! pass aside from avoiding this extra 25¢USD/trip?

I'm trying to understand why the pass is financially recommended whereas the "Good To Go!" lanes/tolls seem to have the ability to read license plates (which I believe renders the "Good To Go!" windshield Sticker useless).

Let's ignore the HOV case for this question (in which case the "Good To Go!" windshield Flex is useful to indicate if the car is currently HOV).

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    Not really a travel question isn't it? Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 0:32
  • @AzorAhai-him- I'd give the guy a pass, technically local commuting questions are the exact opposite of travel, but this does not otherwise fit into any other SE I can think of, and there are already some good answers. My 2 cents: the costs of the GTG pass are covered in only a few weeks of regular commuting, even at the 25C/trip rate, which still works out to 2.50/w if you do it both ways every day (which is however peanuts compared to the tolls themselves)
    – Eugene
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 0:50

3 Answers 3

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Seattle-area resident (and frequent Good To Go! user) here.

Good To Go! works a bit differently depending on the context in which it is used. You can explore each use case here. In summary, there are five different situations where tolls are collected, and the advantage of a pass is a bit different for each.

I-405 express toll lanes: The toll rate changes based on traffic conditions. The lanes are equipped with license-plate readers. If you do not have a pass and have not registered your license plate, you will be charged by mail the posted rate plus $2 regardless of the number of occupants in your vehicle. If you have a Flex Pass, you can either avoid the $2 surcharge as a solo driver or avoid tolls altogether if you have the minimum number of occupants in your vehicle (2 or 3 depending on the time of day). Motorcycles can use the lanes for free with a motorcycle pass. Sometimes the posted rate is FREE, in which case no vehicle is charged a toll, regardless of the presence of a pass.

SR 167 high occupancy toll lanes: The toll rate changes based on traffic conditions. Since there are no license-plate readers on these lanes, it is not legal for a solo driver to use them without a pass, except when no toll is being charged (FREE). Any vehicle with 2 or more occupants can avoid tolls with a flex pass or use the lanes for free with no pass. Motorcycles can use the lanes for free with or without a motorcycle pass.

SR 520 bridge: The toll rate changes based on the time of day. The bridge is equipped with license-plate readers and charges tolls in both directions. There is no change in the toll with the number of occupants in the vehicle. The surcharge for paying by mail (via license plate) is $1 times the number of axles.

SR 99 tunnel: Same system as the 520 bridge. The toll rate changes based on the time of day. The tunnel is equipped with license-plate readers and charges tolls in both directions. There is no change in the toll with the number of occupants in the vehicle. The surcharge for paying by mail (via license plate) is $1 times the number of axles.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge: Toll rates are fixed in time (aside from periodic announced increases) and only vary depending on the number of axles. Tolls are only charged eastbound, with no recording equipment present on the westbound lanes. There is also the option to pay with cash or card at a toll plaza (the only one in the state), but it is $1 more expensive over a pass for a two-axle vehicle, up to $3 more expensive for six or more axles. The surcharge for paying by mail (via license-plate reader) is $1 times the number of axles over the pass rate.

Notes: For all cases except SR 167, if you have registered your license plate with Good To Go! but do not have a pass, the surcharge is $0.25 on top of the posted rate regardless of axles or occupants. Registering (pass or not) avoids the hassle of paying by mail and the possibility of late payments with the associated additional penalties. If you have a non-flex pass, you will be charged the posted rate regardless of the number of occupants in your vehicle, excepting motorcycle passes. The flex passes work a bit on the honor system (the vehicle occupants can change the mode to and from HOV at will) but it is possible to get caught and fined for the wrong setting.

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    you might as well combine 520 and 99, rather than make everyone read the same text twice. Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 22:22
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica I want to keep them separate for reference purposes, but I added a note. Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 0:28
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A cursory glance of the GoodToGo! website that you link to shows that:

With a GoodToGo account:

  • You save money
  • Toll fees are automatically deducted from your account (either pre or post-pay)

Without an account

  • Costs more ($2 higher per toll as per the website)
  • Bills are mailed to the address that your vehicle is registered at

And of course if you fall to pay a toll (Because EG your address is wrong, or the bill got lost in the mail), you are subject to civil penalties and potentially a hold placed on your vehicle registration.

So if you want to waste money and risk the possibility of civil penalties, then no need to create an account.


And the GoodToGo sticker seems to be a form of RFID tag which makes any comparison to the license plate reader non-sensical.

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  • thanks, do you know why the Good to go system encourages us to have a sticker instead of simply read the car's plate? more reliable? Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 23:02
  • No sticker means no account which means the GoodToGo people have to incur the expense of mailing you a physical bill.
    – Peter M
    Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 23:05
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    One can have an online account without a sticker (I believe: getting the sticker seemed optional when I created the online account). Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 23:06
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    This does not in any way address what is being asked... The question is Pass v's No Pass (both of which are options for account holders). You've answered Account v's No Account.
    – Doc
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 7:48
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    I believe the question as-written is asking about the 25 cent differential between "windshield sticker" and "license plate read". I checked the edit history, it hasn't changed materially. Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 22:20
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Reddit user doktorhladnjak mentions the reason why the pass is financially recommended whereas the "Good To Go!" lanes/tolls seem to have the ability to read license plates:

Sometimes their software can’t determine the license plate in the photo so a human has to look at those to determine the plate number. Sometimes the photo doesn’t have a clear number at all so the revenue is lost. Because of that, you get charged a higher price for not having a sticker.

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  • Many other electronic tolling systems have the same policy. License plate readers work, but the RF tags or transponders save money for the tolling authority, so they offer you a discount for using them. Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 6:38

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