Road toll scofflaws will have to face the music at RMV
BOSTON — The state's all-electronic system of tolling implemented in 2016 has collected more than $850 million through the end of January, and drivers owe about $43 million in unpaid charges, transportation officials said Wednesday.
The state expects to collect between 60 and 80 percent of the outstanding tolls through reciprocity agreements with other states and through flagging Massachusetts drivers, said Stephen Collins, Department of Transportation director of tolling.
"Those people are going to be marked at the Registry (of Motor Vehicles) as nonrenewable," Collins said at a MassDOT subcommittee meeting. "They're going to have to come back to us and pay what they owe."
Under the state's fee schedule, drivers have 30 days to pay uncollected tolls issued as invoices. Late fees begin after that point, and once the invoice has been outstanding for 90 days or more, a driver's license and vehicle registration can be marked for non-renewal.
Almost three-quarters of the $32.5 million owed from Massachusetts trips had been from trips well beyond the non-renewal threshold, state data show. About $3.6 million came from invoices issued within 30 days of Jan. 31, the end date of the data.
About $32.5 million of the uncollected fares are from Massachusetts license plates and another $10.5 million come from out-of-state drivers.
The rate of "leakage" — uncollected tolls that ultimately will be lost — should decrease in the coming years as state officials become more adjusted to all-electronic tolling and as MassDOT begins work with a debt collector, Collins said,
In total, about 1.1 billion electronic transactions have been made since the state switched Interstate 90 away from traditional toll booths in October 2016. Collins said 87 percent of those are paid through E-ZPass accounts.
The system has worked well so far despite the uncollected tolls, Collins said, pointing to a rejected image rate — effectively how often the electronic booths are not able to capture a vehicle's license plate — of less than 1 percent, lower than many other states.
The proliferation of toll-gathering gantries has had another benefit, enabling traffic to flow in areas where many drivers once needed to slow to a stop and make a cash transaction with a toll taker in a booth.
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