Easy Pass, Bangkok Expressway

Most, but not all, of the Bangkok expressway toll booths have an "Easy Pass" lane (or two or three) whereby people buy a device to put in their car which is automatically detected by radio frequency ID, and prepay their tolls using an Easy Pass card at a 7-11.

An exception is the ring road which still does not have Easy Pass.

Easy Pass can save you time in the queues at the toll booths, as well as save you from needing to dig around for money to pay while you're trying to drive.

The Easy Pass lanes are marked with a big yellow sign which says Easy Pass, and at night have a yellow light. There are blue stripes on the road leading in to Easy Pass lanes. They cannot be used to pay by cash.

When going thru an Easy Pass lane, give a space of at least 5 meters behind the car in front of you.

After you pass, a sign will show you the remaining credit on your pass.

How to Get an Easy Pass

Stop by one of the buildings on the exit side of a toll booth. Only some toll booths have them.

You buy a small plastic device in two parts -- one is the slide mounting with an adhesive sticker on it, and the other is the Easy Pass electronics which can slide in and out of this mounting. I put mine behind my rear view mirror. Some people just hold it in their hand out the window as they drive thru.

There is a plastic card which goes with each Easy Pass, the same size as an ATM card. You use this to recharge your credit.

Recharging Credit for Easy Pass

You can recharge your credit at any 7-11 store.

Some toll booths also have a top up lane designated by a sign, where you hand them your card and money. You do not top up in the Easy Pass lane; you top up in a normal pay lane with the designated sign. Always pay the toll on top of the Easy Pass amount, e.g., if the toll is 20 baht and you wish to add 1000 baht to Easy Pass then give them 1020 baht.

Problems with Easy Pass

Easy Pass has been plagued by problems, including:

  • Failure to detect the pass when you drive thru. This is a major pain because you are stuck and cannot get thru, and there are usually cars behind you so that you cannot back out. It causes a lane jam. Honk your horn and an attendant will come to you. Give them your Easy Pass electronic package by sliding it out of its holder and hand it to the tenant. They will normally process your case manually. Also have your Easy Pass card available in case you need that, too. Normally, just the electronic part is enough.

  • Computer system problems. These vary, but I have noticed that my credits sometimes do not show up immediately.

  • When you buy your first easy pass, wait about 5 hours before using it. (In 2012, I tried using one after about 15 minutes from purchase and top up, and it didn't work, causing a jam and difficult backup at the booth.)

  • Sometimes they are out of stock of passes. I have two passes for two cars. The second pass is bigger, and more difficult to slide in and out of its holder so I leave it loose in its holder.

If there is very little traffic then I will go ahead and pay the toll with cash. I do this because I've experienced problems too often with failure to detect the pass when I drive thru. Though the failure rate is now much less than 10%, it's a habit. I use Easy Pass mainly during rush hour or if I'm in a hurry. Also, not using Easy Pass all the time saves me time later in not needing to stop and do as many top-ups.

Likewise, I have also learned to follow a distance behind the car in front of me, in case they have a problem.

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