Beware, Maryland toll road drivers: Invoices for 23 million unpaid trips are hitting the mail

Drivers who used Maryland toll roads in the past year but haven’t received an invoice for the trip shouldn’t expect to avoid paying the toll.

The Maryland Transportation Authority is billing motorists for millions of toll trips made after invoices were paused during the coronavirus pandemic. The backlog has ballooned to more than 23 million transactions awaiting processing as the agency pleads for patience amid a torrent of customer complaints.

The MDTA, which manages the state’s eight toll roads and bridges, said it already has mailed bills for about 5 million transactions for video tolls worth $27 million. The agency in recent days has started processing notices for more video tolls — in which motorists without an E-ZPass transponder pay by mail — that were incurred back to August.

The backlog is catching many motorists by surprise: Some people — not expecting a bill for a trip made months ago — aren’t seeing or are ignoring notices as they arrive in the mail. Meanwhile, the agency’s customer call centers are overwhelmed with inquiries from people who are opening the invoices.

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Construction to remove toll booths along NYS Thruway resumes

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The removal of toll plazas from the New York State Thruway’s former ticketed system will resume this week and all booths are expected to be removed by the end of summer.

This is the next and final phase of construction for the New York State Thruway’s transition to cashless tolling. The state switched cashless tolls back in November 2020.

“New York remains committed to continuing our infrastructure investments throughout the COVID-19 crisis,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “The completion of this project saves drivers time, cuts greenhouse gas emissions, and improves air quality along our thruway system. Even in these trying times, New York State will never put the brakes on building a stronger and better future.”

Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, “This monumental project is one of the largest projects in the Authority’s nearly 70-year history and is transforming our transportation infrastructure by modernizing and enhancing services for the hundreds of millions of travelers that rely on our system each year. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the Thruway is ushering in a new chapter as all of the former toll plazas are removed, creating a truly free-flowing, open-road system that is safe, more modern, and more suitable for the growing 21st-century economy.”

Beginning this week, the design-build contractor, Cashless Tolling Constructors, LLC, will begin removing toll plazas at six interchanges along the Thruway’s former ticketed system statewide. When completed, 52 toll plazas, approximately 230 individual toll booths, will be removed creating highway speed, true open-road tolling by the end of summer 2021, weather permitting.

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PA Turnpike is world’s most expensive toll road, study claims

If you’ve driven on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, you’ve driven on the most expensive toll road in the world, one study claims.

The Australian insurance company, Budget Direct, recently released a report looking at the prices of toll roads in 20 countries.

According to the report, drivers can expect to pay $112.91 when traveling the 360-mile length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The second most expensive toll road in the world is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria with a cost of $45.43, according to Budget Direct.

Coming in third is the Rijeka – Zagreb/Split-Dubrovnik in Croatia with a cost of $38.42, Budget Direct reports.

The study also examined the highest average tolls by country.

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De Blasio pushes ‘aggressive’ approval of NYC’s congestion pricing in call with Buttigieg

Federal approval of New York City’s congestion pricing program will move forward “aggressively” under the leadership of new Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday.

Hizzoner said he spoke with Buttigieg last week about the scheme, which aims to pour billions into long-overdue transit upgrades at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority by charging motorists a new toll when they drive south of 61st St. in Manhattan.

The tolls were scheduled go live in early 2021 after the Legislature authorized the plan in 2019 — but transit officials have for more than a year said holdups by the Trump administration delayed the launch until at least 2023.

The program requires U.S. Department of Transportation approval because many of Manhattan’s streets receive federal funding and are a part of the federal highway system.

“One of the ways to help benefit the MTA — the bottom line of the MTA and make sure we have the mass transit we need — is to move congestion pricing aggressively,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “He heard me loud and clear — New York City is ready to go. I think he’s going to do a lot to help us.”

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Your cash is no good at Holland Tunnel toll booths starting Wednesday

 

Staring Wednesday, cash is gone forever as a method to pay the $16 toll at the Holland Tunnel.

The tunnel between Jersey City and Lower Manhattan will be the first Port Authority Hudson River crossing to use cashless toll collection and joins the authorities’ Staten Island bridges which already use all electronic toll collection.

Toll systems at the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel are scheduled to be upgraded to the new modern system within the next 18 months, officials said.

“This new toll collection system upgrades the Holland Tunnel with the most up-to-date cashless technology which will be more resilient and provide the agency faster processing times,” said Kevin O’Toole, Port Authority board chairman.

Cashless tolls were temporarily used starting in March during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Cash tolls returned in October only at the Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge.

Port Authority officials had intended for its Hudson River crossings to use all electronic toll collection before New York City implemented congestion pricing that would charge drivers a fee for traveling below 61st Street – which will fund the subway system.

However the goal of having congestion pricing working in 2021 could be delayed until 2023 because of issues in receiving federal environmental approvals and.

Drivers without an E-ZPass account will be billed for their tolls after a photo of their license plate is recorded by overhead cameras. A bill for the toll is then sent by mail to the vehicle’s registered owner.

The Port Authority commissioners approved the new cashless tolling system for the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln and Holland tunnels in 2019.

Cashless tolling was first implemented at the Bayonne Bridge in February 2017, the Outerbridge Crossing in April 2019, and the New Goethals Bridge in September 2019.

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Thruway Authority approves 30% toll hike for drivers without E-ZPass

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Thruway Authority has unanimously approved a 30% rate hike for drivers not using an E-ZPass.

The increase is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

There will also be a $2 administrative surcharge per billing statement for Tolls by Mail statements.

Toll rates for E-ZPass customers on the rest of the system will remain the same.

The hike has drawn criticism, with one state senator describing it as “discriminatory.”

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Exclusive: Split tolling on Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to start Dec. 1

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Split tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge will officially go into effect at 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The new electronic tolling system — which is expected to reduce truck traffic while netting the MTA millions of dollars in additional annual revenue — will split the bridge’s current one-way toll in half and begin charging it in both directions.

“The restoration of split tolling will end a 30-year loophole in New York City that will help alleviate congestion on Staten Island, while improving the environment and delivering a modest benefit to the bottom line of public transportation during an unprecedented fiscal crisis,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye.

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NY cashless tolls: Avoiding them could draw misdemeanor charge

ALBANY — Intentionally skipping out on a state Thruway or bridge toll could soon get you charged with a class A misdemeanor in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $178 billion budget plan includes two measures meant to crack down on toll evasion as the state continues its shift to a cashless system that relies on cameras and sensors being able to read license plates and E-ZPass tags.

One proposal would make intentionally avoiding a toll a “theft of services” crime, a low-level misdemeanor that would put it on par with riders who skip out on taxi or train fares or jump the turnstiles in the New York City subway system.

The other would boost the current $25 fine for driving with an unreadable or obstructed license plate — but only if the driver enters a cashless tolling zone.

If approved, Cuomo’s proposal calls for a $100 minimum and $500 maximum fine if the driver enters a toll highway, bridge or the yet-to-launch congestion-pricing area in Manhattan.

“With the ongoing shift to cashless tolling, it is paramount that we ensure all users are paying their share, and this proposal implements a fine for those who purposefully obstruct their license plate from view to evade tolls,” said Freeman Klopott, spokesman for the state Budget Division.

Cashless tolling coming to Thruway

Construction started last year on the Thruway Authority’s $355 million plan to replace its traditional, human-staffed toll booths with all-electronic tolling gantries across the 450-mile paid portion of the state’s superhighway system.

It is scheduled to shift to the electronic system by the end of 2020.

 

Under the new system, drivers pass through the overhead gantries at highway speeds without having to stop for a toll collector.

From there, the car’s E-ZPass is automatically charged. If a car doesn’t have E-ZPass, a camera snaps a photo of its license plate so a bill can be mailed to the car owner’s home.

Cuomo’s office claims the tougher penalties would help deter drivers from trying to evade the toll, either by blocking their license plate or by any other means.

The governor previously has sounded the alarm on the need to ensure license plates are readable for the cashless-tolling cameras, proposing a plan last year that would have required every New York driver to pay to replace their plates if they were at least a decade old.

That plan was panned by lawmakers and motorists and was quickly scrapped, with Cuomo vowing to come up with a new plan this year.

 

But Cuomo’s office insists the newly proposed penalties for toll jumping aren’t a replacement for the original license-plate plan; Klopott said the governor’s office is still considering proposals on that front.

Shift already in place in some areas

 

New York already has shifted to cashless tolling in some areas, particularly on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in the Lower Hudson Valley and the toll bridges in New York City.

Early results from the Cuomo Bridge, which the current governor helped name after his father, showed the Thruway Authority collected more in fines than it did from tolls after making the switch.

From August 2016 through April 2018, the Thruway Authority collected $25 million from fares billed by mail and $22 million in fees and fines on the bridge, which spans Westchester and Rockland counties.

Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, has been a vocal critic of the state’s cashless-tolling rollout on the Cuomo Bridge, which saw fines quickly pile up for drivers who were unfamiliar with the new system or never got their bills in the mail to begin with.

Carlucci had previously supported penalties similar to what Cuomo has proposed to crack down on toll evasion. But he said the state’s rocky rollout on the bridge has led him to reconsider.

“I’ve seen so many billing irregularities that I don’t trust the system in place to be able to decipher from someone visibly and intentionally evading the toll and those that are just some mishap with the reader,” Carlucci said Monday.

It will be up to lawmakers and Cuomo whether to include the measure in the state budget for the fiscal year that starts April 1. If approved, the boosted penalties would take effect 90 days later.

 

A “theft of service” crime is a class A misdemeanor, which is the state’s lowest-level misdemeanor charge.

It is legally punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine, but such crimes are often pleaded down to a violation that doesn’t carry a criminal record or jail time.

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Beware, toll violators! Thousands of more Peach Pass violation notices are going out

By: Lauren Pozen
Updated: January 17, 2020 – 4:22 AM
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — If you thought you got away with not paying to use Peach Pass lanes, think again.

The State Road and Tollway Authority says it will start to send out a larger number of toll violation notices.

What’s the reason behind the increases?

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The SRTA said so many people were misusing the toll lanes last summer that they are gearing up to send out thousands of more violations.

The SRTA sends an average of 6,000 notifications every week.

But because of the summer violations, it will send out an additional 5,500 to 6,000 notices per week.

The increases could also impact people who call the agency’s customer service center, resulting in longer hold times.

If you violate a toll, you don’t get a traffic ticket. Instead, a bill comes in the mail. There is a $25 fee per a violation plus the toll that wasn’t paid.

The SRTA says if someone pays before or on the due date, they can reduce the fee by $20 and pay only $5 per a violation.

This can only be done through the mail or by calling customer service. The agency’s online payment system only accepts full payments.

You’ll pay more to drive on the Triangle Expressway. Tolls will rise on New Year’s Day.

It’s going to cost a little more to ride on the Triangle Expressway in western Wake County starting New Year’s Day.

Toll rates will go up an average of 3.5% on Wednesday. Drivers with an NC Quick Pass will pay 11 cents more, or $3.48, to drive the entire 17.4-mile length of the Triangle Expressway between N.C. 147 at Interstate 40 in Research Triangle Park and the N.C. 55 Bypass near Holly Springs. Drivers without a pass, who receive a bill in the mail, will pay $5.33, or 16 cents more, to make that trip.

Shorter trips cost less. Similar toll increases also take effect Wednesday on the Monroe Expressway near Charlotte.

 

 

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