Drivers across the country can skip paying cash at tollways thanks to coronavirus

The Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA), which handles the majority of toll roads in the Houston area, announced March 12 that toll booth operators will no longer handle cash or coin payments.

In recent days, other transportation authorities across the country – including Delaware, Illinois and Pennsylvania – have undertaken similar measures in an attempt to limit the number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S.

Houston area toll roads have eliminated the “physical handling and exchange of cash on the toll road system” to reduce coronavirus exposure to drivers and employees, according to the HCTRA.

“Cash customers should drive through and pay later online. If the customer is unable to go online, a bill will be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle,” HCTRA said in the announcement.

HCTRA said drivers who normally pay tolls with cash can pass through their regular lane and will receive an invoice in the mail later. HCTRA said it will waive the standard $1.50 administrative fee.

The Illinois Tollway also recently initiated a similar measure, announcing March 13 it has implemented all-electronic tolling as a precaution “to limit the potential spread of coronavirus to customers. Customers can pay either via I-PASS, E-ZPass or online.”

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is also not accepting cash payments from motorists temporarily, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has closed all driver’s license centers for two weeks and road construction projects have been halted.

Any Pennsylvania motorist who wants to pay by cash will become a Toll-By-Plate customer, which means the turnpike will take a photo of their license plate when they pass through a toll booth and send them a bill by mail within 30 days. They can pay online, by telephone or by mail.

“This temporary measure is critical to enable us to support the Commonwealth in its efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton announced on March 16. “I want to be clear that we will return to normal toll-collection operations as soon as it becomes practical.”

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announced March 16 that all “public facing” buildings that deliver various services will be going cashless across the state – including toll plazas and all Division of Motor Vehicle locations – as of Tuesday, March 17.

There are currently 4,752 reported cases of coronavirus in the U.S. as of Tuesday, with 93 deaths and 74 patient recoveries recorded.