The City of San Francisco is suing Hertz Car Rental over its predatory methods of billing customers for driving on tolled roads. (read the article) But car rental companies are doing the same thing in Washington and it isn’t just Hertz.
The first day that you drive a Hertz rental car on a tolled facility in the Seattle area, you will pay the price of the toll for Pay by Plate plus $4.95/day surcharge for that day and every day after that for the duration of your rental, up to a $24.75 maximum (5 days). The surcharge is incurred every single day thereafter until you return the car or it reaches the maximum, whether you drive in a tolled facility those days or not. (Budget Car Rental does the same thing, but their daily surcharge is $3.95.) Furthermore, car rental companies do not provide a FlexPass. So carpooling doesn’t matter.
So a visiting driver coming from the airport to Kirkland using the carpool lane and doesn’t know to get out before passing through the first toll gantry of the 405 Express Toll Lanes (or drives across the 520 bridge) will be charged the price of the toll (Typically $0.75 from Bellevue to Kirkland) + $0.25 Pay-by-Plate fee + $24.75 surcharge = $25.75 for that 1 mile. Of that $25.75 collected from the driver, about $0.21 actually goes toward paying for stuff related to I-405. Twenty-one cents.
Just more highway robbery thanks to the I-405ETL. Unfortunately, unlike the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, there is no way to pay using coins. You must use the electronic tolling system. By the way, I pointed this out to the House Transportation Committee more than a year ago here in my presentation.
Addendum: GoodToGo allows for creating a temporary account. Every person renting a car that may use a toll facility in Washington should do this: http://wsdot.wa.gov/GoodToGo/visitors.htm