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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Congestion Pricing Complaints to Surge, MTA Not Prepared

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By: Don Driggers

Imagine getting charged twice for going through a toll or, as happens quite often at the cashless tolls here in New York City, you don’t even get charged at all. And then, you find yourself with a fine, but the Metropolitan Transit Authority has taken so long to fine you, that it has already been sent to collections in just a matter of weeks! According to The New York Post, “Transportation Authority officials have done little to study the underlying causes of thousands of toll complaints and are playing catch-up to develop a “modern information system” by the start of Central Business District Tolling in 2023”. The Post further reports that

MTA Bridges and Tunnels “does not have a reliable way to detect systemic issues,” IG Carolyn Pokorny said. “This shortcoming puts the agency at risk of being ill-prepared to handle future CBD tolling complaints efficiently.”

The New York Post blames the “failure to accurately record license plates by the MTA’s contractor Conduent. Yet MTA management’s summary reports of complaints completely missed the prevalence of human error, the report said”. The matter is further complicated because, as The New York Post reports,

The MTA signed a new $246 million contract with Conduent earlier this year — but opted to keep the company out of its customer service operations. Instead, customer service for MTA bridge and tunnel tolls will be handled through a $122 million contract with Faneuil. The MTA has also purchased software that will allow it to track and analyze all of the complaints it receives, according to its official response embedded in the IG report”.

The New York Post goes on to report that even when the MYS attempts to collect toll fees, it often fails, as evidenced by its recent report that it has apparently lost out on over 56 million in toll fees over 22 months, for a variety of reasons. The Post states, MTA Bridges and Tunnels was unable to send bills for six million crossings through from September 2019 to June 2021 — leaving millions of dollars uncollected, the comptroller’s office said in a letter to the MTA following up on three-year-old audit into its cashless tolling. A huge chunk of the lost revenue — $33.9 million — stemmed from the MTA and its vendors not having agreements with other states’ DMVs to access vehicle registration information, particularly for temporary plates.

Tolls are necessary to keep our roads, bridges, and tunnels in good repair, but no one is happy when tolls keep rising and the quality of our the roads we trust to keep us safe is degrading.

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