Beginning next year toll roads are half off for some residents, winter snowbirds

SunPass Saga
A move to reduce the costs for frequent users of mass transit was rejected.

Some Florida drivers and even winter snowbirds will see 50% reductions on their toll bills next year after the House voted unanimously to pass a discount plan promoted by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

SB 6A authorizes the Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) to set up the toll relief program for drivers that notch 35 transactions a month on their SunPass or other transponders.

The measure appropriates $500 million to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Trust Fund to accomplish that goal. The House vote Wednesday afternoon followed a 38-0 vote by the Florida Senate Tuesday to pass the measure.

Prior to passing the bill, House Democrats did try unsuccessfully to amend the measure to ensure that no Florida politician’s name could be used in the marketing campaign to promote the discounts. Upward of $40 million could be available to the FDOT to advertise the program.

Rep. Fentrice Driskell argued during floor debate Wednesday that the full $500 million should be directed toward discounting the toll costs for drivers, noting there already is money in FDOT’s budget to advertise the new discounts. But if the state wasn’t going to require the money be spent in full on the discounts, Driskell said the amendment was necessary.

“I feel we need to make sure that it can’t be used to prop up politicians,” she said. “And I think we have seen that too often. I’ve seen it all across the state and I don’t want it to happen here with our hard-earned taxpayer dollars.”

The amendment failed on a voice vote.

The chamber did not consider another amendment that Rep. Jennifer “Rita” Harris wanted to offer, with Republican leadership ruling it expanded the scope of the bill. The Orlando Democrat said she wanted residents who took mass transit 35 times a month to also benefit from the $500 million general revenue infusion.

She noted that many of the constituents she represents work at Florida theme parks and aren’t driving to work. “I just wish we would have been able to do more to help our working-class constituents by offering the same type or rebate for our voters and people out there who trail by bus or by train,” she said.

“In my district, where I live, a lot of people work at the theme parks. They work at the tourist center that keeps this state going. They are the economic fuel to our engine, so I was hoping that we would be able to give them a little bit of a cushion as well. So I am looking forward to working together on ways that we can do that in the future.”

As passed, SB 6A authorizes the FTE to establish the program effective from Jan. 1, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2023, for all Florida toll facilities that use a Florida-issued transponder or are interoperable with the SunPass system. There are no residency requirements for SunPass, meaning the discounts will also apply to snowbirds so long as they meet the minimum number of trips.

The discounts are for transponders that rack up 35 or more transactions per calendar month. The discounts equal 50% of the amount paid for the qualifying transactions. 

A “qualifying transaction” is a paid transponder-based toll transaction incurred by a two-axle vehicle for travel on a Florida toll facility using a Florida-issued transponder linked to a qualifying account. The account credit must be posted to the qualifying account the month after the credit is earned.

Florida toll facilities included in the SunPass Savings program, according to a staff analysis of SB 6A, include the Turnpike Mainline (SR 91/SR 821), Sawgrass Expressway (SR 869), Alligator Alley, Polk Parkway (SR 570), Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Interstate 4 connector, Veterans Expressway (SR 589), Suncoast Parkway (SR 589), Beachline East (SR 528) MP 0-8, Beachline West (SR 528) MP 31-46, Western Beltway (SR 429) MP 0-11, Southern Connector Extension (SR 417) MP 0-3, Seminole Expressway (SR 417) MP 38-55 A/B, Wekiva Parkway (SR 429) Mount Plymouth Rd to SR 46, First Coast Expressway (SR 23), Garcon Point Bridge, Pinellas Bayway, and express lanes.

SB 6A also builds off a proposal DeSantis announced last August called “SunPass Savings.” Under the plan, customers with two-axle vehicles receive a 20% credit to their SunPass account if they incurred at least 40 paid toll transactions in a month, or a 25% credit to their SunPass account if they incurred at least 80 paid toll transactions.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.

One comment

  • tom palmer

    December 14, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    No surprise on who the Legislature actually represents.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704