“We need to stand up and fix things when they aren’t right. This is about standing up for the little guy and not letting a corporate giant like Conduent underdeliver, while getting hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.” This was a tweet by State Senator David Carlucci who along with Assemblyman Tom Abinanti demanded New York State end it’s cashless tolling contract with Conduent.
There are numerous problems with the cashless tolling system, such as sloppy data handoffs, unread EZ Pass tags, insufficient notices to motorists, and scant customer service. This has left millions of dollars uncollected and burdened some motorists with tens of thousands of dollars in penalties that they didn’t know they had incurred. Making matters worse, motorists who do not have EZ Pass have no way of checking to see if they have an outstanding balance or are subject to violations. The EZ Pass website does not permit searches for open tolls by license plate. Then, if a motorist learns there are violations there are no opportunities to review the substance of the claim or demand a hearing, a denial of our constitutionally protected right to due process! Not to mention, three unpaid violations or for commercial vehicle owners with $200 or more in unpaid tolls and violation fees within a period of five years will trigger a suspension of the vehicle’s registration.
Clearly Senator Carlucci and Assemblyman Abinanti are justified in their complaints. Unfortunately for motorists, particularly commercial vehicles, the executive branch does not share the reasonable views of the legislators. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli eviscerated the MTA in his most recent report for leaving millions on the table in uncollected fines. While that is certainly his job as comptroller, it’s his recommendations that are problematic, especially as it relates to tractor-trailers. As he sees it, the problem with cashless tolling is not with the contract, it’s with the lack of enforcement. He wants better enforcement against missing trailers, bringing enforcement in-house and improvements to enforcement methods.
His changes will include, requiring entities in TBTA’s Fleet Program to register their trailers so that they can be charged if the registration information from the power unit cannot be identified. To that end he wants to collect and analyze the information for any usage patterns of unbillable tractor trailers that are not part of a Fleet Program. These results should be used to identify and contact the trailer owner and to request information about the owner of the tractor.
Scariest of all, he wants to use tax authorities as well as the offices of the City Sheriff and City Marshall to collect debt. Think of booting or towing for NYC parking tickets but on a larger scale. Bad enough registrations are erroneously suspended, now freight confiscation, towing, and booting will become the norm. Companies will be coerced into paying massive fines to retrieve their vehicles and freight on debt that they may have never known about or that is not their responsibility.
To best protect yourself, and your fleet, from EZ Pass surprises on the road, here are a few things you can do:
- Make sure you have EZ Pass tags for each vehicle and that the accounts are up to date.
- Check your EZ Pass accounts regularly for errors.
- Make sure that your method of payment is current. If your credit card on file has expired or maxed out, replace it. If the account balance is low, add to it.
- Set up e-mail alerts with EZ Pass (make sure they aren’t sent to spam)
- Make sure the DMV has your correct mailing address. They can’t send you a notice if they have an old address.
No EZ Pass? If you went through a cashless tolling facility but are waiting for the bill, keep calling EZ Pass at 1-800-333-8655 (TOLL). The EZ Pass website does not permit a search for unpaid tolls without a bill number. One cannot search by plate alone. If you never receive an invoice, to avoid surprises you must call to find out if any money is due.