Our Opinion: State has no defense for its E-ZPass snafu

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The state, after prodding drivers to sign up for electronic tolling, was caught by surprise when drivers signed up. To make matters worse, some Turnpike drivers were fined for their diligence.

This is an example of why people get frustrated with government.

Massachusetts will transition to all-electronic tolling on the Turnpike on October 28 and drivers without E-ZPass transponders will be charged extra to have their bills mailed to them. The Department of Transportation (DOT) successfully persuaded drivers to sign up for E-ZPass but finds itself backlogged in setting up accounts for those with new transponders. Some drivers have incurred $100 fines, $50 each way on the Turnpike, for not paying to use the road when they had every reason to believe they were being charged electronically (Eagle, September 30).

Fines can be removed by calling the Violation Processing Center but they will apparently still be issued to "violators" until October 28 when the toll booths disappear. The DOT should have anticipated the rush to get transponders and responded accordingly with personnel increases, but once it realized it was backlogged it should have suspended any fine system until it got caught up. Some drivers who let their E-ZPass accounts lapse would have escaped fines but that is preferable to fining drivers who were being good citizens.

Encouraging residents to do something and then penalizing for them for doing so is an excellent way to increase voter cynicism about government. Plainly, there is more than enough cynicism out there already without encouraging more.


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