FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Time is running out to replace those battery-operated SunPass transponders - as of Jan. 1, they will no longer work.
As of November, about 100,000 of SunPass' 5 million active customers were still using older models, which can be swapped at no cost for a permanent sticker tag or a portable model that can be used in multiple vehicles. Because it has no batteries, the newer portable models are slimmer and don't beep when a toll is paid. Therefore, they are expected to last longer.
The swap is necessary because Congress is requiring that by October 2016, all toll roads be able to accept transponders from any state. So Florida officials are making sure every SunPass customer has a transponder with the correct technology.
Officials began contacting customers in waves in 2013. About 91 percent have opted for portable models, with 9 percent going for the sticker tags that can only be used in one vehicle.
Here's what you need to know about SunPass:
Q: How do you know if you need to replace your transponder?
A: SunPass has contacted all customers by mail or email. If you haven't been contacted by now, you likely don't have to do anything. If you're still concerned you need to replace your transponder, call 855-824-7927 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or go to sunpasstagswap.com.
Q: If you have been contacted about replacing your transponder, can you do so at retail outlets that sell SunPass, like Publix, or the SunPass customer service center in Boca Raton?
A: No, you must follow the process outlined in the mail or email sent to you.
Q: What happens if you continue to use an older transponder?
A: Officials say the SunPass customer service center will work with those customers on a case by case basis.
Q: What are you supposed to do with the old transponder?
A: Remove the batteries, if applicable. You can drop off both the transponder and batteries at your local recycling center or mail them to the SunPass Tag Swap Center, P.O. Box 246150, 7972 Pines Blvd., Hollywood, FL 33024.
Q: Can I use SunPass in other states?
Yes, in Georgia and North Carolina. Other agreements are soon expected in South Carolina and Alabama, with Texas, Kansas, Louisana and Texas to follow. And drivers in those states will be able to use their transponders to pay tolls in Florida.
Q: When will SunPass and E-Z Pass be compatible?
A: It's unclear if it will happen by the October 2016 deadline. But the two sides are moving in that direction. E-Z Pass operates in more than a dozen states in the Northeast and Midwest.
Q: How many accounts does SunPass have?
A: There are 5,214,935 active SunPass accounts, with 6,904,736 transponders.
Q: What's the percentage of tolls paid on the Turnpike system with SunPass?
A: About 81 percent. However, some sections such as the Homestead Extension in Miami-Dade County and the Sawgrass Expressway in Broward average closer to 90 percent.
Q: How many transponders are sold each month?
A: At times, about 100,000 transponders a month have been sold. Most recently, about 69,000 a month have been purchased. In the most recent fiscal year, 1.2 million were sold.
Information from: Sun Sentinel