Drivers who want to get on the MnPASS rolls will have to wait, because the Minnesota Department of Transportation is running low on transponder mounting clips.
Starting Thursday the agency will stop accepting requests for new accounts.
A MnDOT spokeswoman said signups would resume in late March or early April when a new shipment is expected to arrive.
While the transponder may seem like the key component, the clips are essential, too. They activate the transponder, allowing readers to deduct the tolls from solo drivers who pay to use the HOT lanes on I-394 and I-35W, lanes otherwise reserved for buses, motorcycles and carpools.
MnDOT was unable to get its most recent shipment from the lone overseas vendor because of a glitch in purchasing and shipping, said spokeswoman Bobbie Dahlke. Current MnPASS holders received an e-mail Wednesday notifying them of the problem.
With about 500 new customers signing up each month, the agency was on pace to run out of clips.
The agency needs to keep a supply of clips for existing customers to replace those that break or need replacement. Drivers who want to sign up for an account can request an e-mail notice when signups for new accounts resume by going to www.mnpass.org.
Currently MnDOT services about 25,000 accounts with 32,000 transponders.
Although transponder holders can use any HOT lane in the metro area, the latest numbers indicate that 14,000 account holders use the HOT lane on I-394 between downtown Minneapolis and Minnetonka. Another 11,000 account holders use the HOT lane on I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and Burnsville.
Signups for the new I-35E MnPASS lane opening later this year won't begin until the summer. By then, MnDOT may have a new vendor for all of its transponders. MnDOT has issued a request for proposal for new transponder vendors. If a new vendor is selected, it's not clear how that might affect holders of the transponders currently in use.