Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MNPass and the Trooper

(Let me start by saying to Mom and Dad that I did *not* get a ticket because I wasn't doing anything wrong. Okay. With that out of the way...)

In Minneapolis, if you're someone who occasionally (or daily) has a problem getting out the door early enough to deal with morning traffic and still get to work without getting scolded, you can pay for a "MNPass" account so that you can drive in the carpool lane.

As you might have guessed, I have a MNPass account. And, with that, I have a little transponder thing that is attached to my windshield (just behind the rearview mirror), which gets scanned when I use the carpool lane. At which point it beeps at me to let me know that I've been tagged, and then it pings with the MNPass people to let them know to charge me.

There are days when my entire drive into downtown is 25 cents - which, unfortunately, is typically on days when there's no traffic, so you don't really need the extra lane for the sake of saving maybe a minute or two. There are also days when it can be up to $8 - in which case, you probably still will top out at 40 miles per hour, but that's compared to 10 mph or thereabouts for the rest of the traffic.

Because I'm a legal kind of guy, it gets really really frustrating when you see people going in and out of the MNPass lane with only one person in the car and you can visibly see that there is no transponder. When I see those, I always wish there would be a Highway Patrol car around to pull them over.

With so many people away on spring break the past couple of weeks, I actually have seen some Troopers hanging out on the inner shoulder of the freeway, and I was very happy to see someone get pulled over last week on Wednesday.

I saw another on Friday, and moved a bit to the right to give him space, then pulled back into the MNPass lane. Two more cars came behind me, and then I saw the Trooper pull out. I watched the first car move out of the lane. Then the car behind me moved, and I slid over to the right to let the Trooper pass. Until he pulled in behind me.

Speed? 58mph. MNPass transponder? Up-to-date. Adrenaline a little high, but mainly I was just a little confused. I mean... I know that one of my brake lights comes and goes, but I hadn't been braking, so I couldn't imagine that was a problem.

As the Trooper came up to my car, I opened the door and immediately apologized for doing so - but my driver's door window died last January.

The Trooper (I believe his badge said his name was C. Benz?) leaned in and - practically before he even got to my door - started to apologize. Then he asked to see not my license or insurance, but my transponder. Sure. Not a problem. 

He came back a moment later and handed my transponder back to me. Again, he apologized for the inconvenience, and explained that my transponder hadn't registered when I passed him, and it was placed such that he didn't see it - until he was already pulling me over.

I thanked him and explained that I was happy to see Troopers pulling people over in the MNPass lane, because it bugs me when people use it for free - and without multiple people in the car.

Before he walked away he apologized, again, for the inconvenience - while I again assured him that I wasn't overly bothered.

And, since the MNPass was keeping me on time for my arrival at work, the stop didn't even make me late. Definitely worth the 75 cents I spent that day.

1 comment:

bikermo said...

i've had this experience twice, unfortunately this morning the trooper was NOT apologetic, he was a complete jerk. i've moved my transponder at their request twice, even though initially it was installed exactly as MNPASS instructed. if i move it any lower, as the trooper asked, it will be an obstruction to my view, which is illegal. it makes me angry that traffic had to be slowed for absolutely no reason. i gave MNPASS my licence plate number too, so the troopers have three ways to check yet they must pull you over if they can't physically see it? thanks for the hassle; next time MNPASS gets their transponder back.