Fast food to get faster in California


January 27, 2000

SANTA ANA, Calif., Jan 27 (Reuters) - Fast food is about to get faster in southern California, where the car is king, hamburgers are considered heavenly, and speed is of the essence.

Five McDonald's restaurants have signed a deal with a local transportation authority to allow motorists to zip through the drive-through line without having to stop and pay for their food -- cutting 15 seconds off the normal 131 second-wait.

The trick is utilizing the same technology that permits motorists to skip stops on Orange County toll roads. A transponder on some cars emits a signal to antennae on the toll roads, automatically calculating the fee. The motorist is then billed.

Now five McDonald's restaurants in Orange County are installing similar antennae to interact with cars equipped with transponders. Customers using the faster service will be automatically billed for their food when they receive their statement from the same agency that oversees the toll road accounts.

Antonio Hernandez, a spokesman for McDonald's, told the Orange County Register the company believes the time-saving plan, which goes into effect in March, will be a big hit.

``With today's lifestyles, everyone's on the go. If they can omit any time having to wait in the drive-through line, they would welcome that,'' said Hernandez.

Copyright 2000 Reuters Limited.

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