What Newcomers Need to Know About Getting Around Central Texas
Transportation Information from Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority
Published on: April 21, 2022
interior image of man driving a car at dawn with pink sky in background
Photo By: Why Kei

New to Austin, or considering a move here? Congratulations! You’re likely aware of the many draws that make Bat City one of the country’s best places to live, work, and play. You’ll want to check out everything this fair city has to offer, from the serene beauty of Zilker Park, to the many iconic music venues, to beautiful and growing downtown, there’s something for everyone.

Whether you did your research before you moved here, or came on a hunch, you’ve probably heard about our traffic. Or even experienced it firsthand. That’s why the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) is here. It’s their job to get you where you want to go. Sure, we all wish we could just wave a magic wand and traffic woes would be fixed, but it’s not quite that easy.

While CTRMA doesn’t have a wand, there are a lot of Federal, State, and local agencies that work together to address Austin and Central Texas traffic issues.


Tolling in Central Texas – What you Need to Know

Central Texas has ten toll roads operated by two separate transportation agencies, the Mobility Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The Mobility Authority owns and operates 183A Toll, 290 Toll, 71 Toll Lane, MoPac Express Lane, 45SW Toll and 183 Toll. TxDOT owns and operates Loop 1, SH 45N, SH 45SE and SH 130.

Drivers choosing these routes can pay their usage fees either with an electronic tag or through each entity’s individual pay by mail program, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Why Tolling?

Paying tolls is something you’d rather not have to do, but sitting in traffic really puts a damper on your ability to enjoy all the things your new city has to offer – so that’s why tolls exist. Toll roads provide a viable funding option to build and maintain roads now rather than waiting decades for funds to build the infrastructure we needed, like, yesterday.


Do I have to use toll roads?

Not at all. Tolls are a user fee collected in exchange for a service. If you don’t use the toll road, you don’t have to pay for it, and pursuant to state law, a free lane is never converted into a tolled lane. They upgrade the adjacent non-tolled lanes as part of most toll projects, improving the travel experience for all modes of travel. They also add sidewalks, shared use paths and trails, and let Cap Metro buses ride for free.


Pick a Tag, any Tag…or Choose Pay By Mail

Tolling in Texas is all electronic – meaning, you never have to stop at a toll booth – which saves time and is better for the environment. That’s a win win.

Drivers without an active electronic tag will receive their toll bill in the mail. Remember there are two tolling agencies so you could get two different bills. Drivers that opt for an electronic tag can choose from any of those shown in the chart below and save 33% over the Pay By Mail rates. That’s another win! Plus, all transactions, regardless of agency, should be in one handy-dandy place. Wait, is that another win?

But seriously, no matter how frequently you travel, electronic tag accounts are the simplest, most cost-effective way to pay. The Mobility Authority isn’t a tag provider, but they still recommend getting a tag. Which tag you get is totally up to you, but here’s a chart to help you out.

How Tags Work

Once you decide which tag is the right fit for you, you’ll need to maintain the account. Don’t worry, this shouldn’t be too much work on your end – just make sure your address and vehicle information are kept up to date, and make sure the credit card on file has available funds and isn’t expired. If your account becomes inactive, you could receive a bill in the mail.

Due to privacy guidelines, CTRMA is unable to access tag customers’ account details. This can be a frustrating process for drivers, so do a periodic check to make sure your account is in good standing. Your tag provider will always be your first and best resource for your tag account information.

For more information on toll roads, payment options, and tag providers, visit

No matter how you choose to travel, welcomes to Central Texas. Safe travels!