Hey Florida, I have a bone to pick with you.

It’s cocktail hour on a Friday in the Florida Keys, so in the interest of full disclosure this rant is being fueled by Clydesdales if you know what I’m sayin’.

The subject of today’s WTF is Florida’s SunPass toll system and how the car rental companies are handling the new policy change.

Mind you, I was here just three months ago and using the tollway was pretty straightforward.  If you are a resident you can Speedy Gonzales yourself through the tollbooths via a SunPass transponder adhered to your window.  If you didn’t have a SunPass or were renting a car, you simply went through the slower cash lanes.


Well, apparently, not so simple anymore.  Here’s how the tale unfolds.

One of the most heinous airports in the U.S. is Miami International.  Navigating the streets around the airport has gone from challenging to impossible.  You see, the Miami airport peeps moved all car rental to a central location.  That may sound like a good thing, until you attempt to leaving the airport.  Roads are under construction and they interlace each other like an entangled bowl of spaghetti.  MapQuest, Google  Maps, verbal instructions that “it’s a peace of cake” to find 836 West are no match for the mighty Miami airport.

And that’s when I see the police lights and sirens in my rearview mirror.

Great.  It’s 10 pm at night and I’m being pulled over by Dade County’s finest.  I’m haven’t even been in the car for 10 minutes and I am totally lost.  I find myself grateful for being pulled over because I’m about to get a fresh set of directions.  (See…that’s me being positive.)

But first, I have to deal with Officer Friendly.

Me: Hi officer.  I just picked up this rental car and I am totally lost.

Him:  Do you know why I pulled you over?

Me: (inaudibly) Oh great.  I’ve been traveling for 6 hours already and we’re playing multiple choice.  What?  You don’t like my nail polish color?

Me: (audibly) No, I’m sorry, I don’t.  I know I wasn’t speeding, nor did I run a light, so I really don’t know why you pulled me over.

Him: Your headlights are off.  All that is on is a yellow glowing light.

Me: (inaudibly) Oh, that’s ’cause I’m an alien.  We always give off a yellow glowing light.  It’s to hide our third eye.

Me: (audibly) I’m so sorry…and really embarrassed.

Him:  Yeah, apparently your car doesn’t turn the lights on automatically in the dark.

Me: (inaudibly) That’s the least of my worries.  It’s got a crappy retro clock on the dash straight from American Graffiti. What braniac thought that was a good idea?  More importantly can you help me find the turnpike…say…before Memorial Day?

Me: (audibly) Yes, officer, I see that now.

After we go through the formalities of my handing him my driver’s license, the rental agreement, etc., he proceeds to give me instructions.  As an added bonus….and for this I was greatly appreciative…he tells me that the toll booths from Miami to Homestead are no longer manned.

Huh?!  I was just here three months ago.  Not manned?!  How is this going to work with a rental car?!

He explains that if you don’t have a transpoder, a camera will take a photo of your license plate and then mail you the bill.

Peachy.  What if you have a rental car?!

Never one to shy away from an additional fee, the rental car companies have now turned tolls into a revenue stream.  It turns out that each rental company has their own fee structure.  Budget, for example, charges you a flat $2.50 per day, up to a monthly max of $10, plus the tolls.  However, the tolls (called “tolls by plate”)  are also higher if you aren’t using a transponder.

So, basically the $3 or so I would typically pay each way from Miami to the Keys has more than doubled.  And I have to trust the car rental company to bill me back correctly?!


For those wondering why I simply don’t just get a transpoder, they’ve made that impossible for car renters.  When you get a transponder it has to be assigned to a license plate.  Great.  No way for a car renter to fix this mess.

Hey, Florida…isn’t tourism one of your biggest revenue streams?!  Yeah.  Thanks for thinking this whole thing through.

After all the aggravation, here’s the reason why it’s all worth coming down here.  Happy Friday from the Conch Republic.


Categories: The Conch Republic


1 Becky M { 04.01.11 at 8:42 pm }

O M G !

2 Becky M { 04.01.11 at 8:44 pm }

IDK….nice video but it looks a tad windy LOL!!!

3 Sophia { 04.01.11 at 8:45 pm }

I filmed at the edge of the boardwalk, which sticks out into the ocean a bit, so it’s always windy there.