Business, Politics, Traffic

MDTA votes to cut toll penalties in half

BALTIMORE, MD—With its next generation electronic toll collection system coming online this summer, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Board on Thursday approved a measure that cuts in half the civil penalties for non-payment of a video toll, from $50 to $25, and accelerates a 15% toll rate discount for customers who pay video tolls within a certain timeframe. Both changes are anticipated to take effect July 1.

The change in the civil penalty comes as costs associated with processing and collecting citations have decreased over time. Currently, if a Notice of Toll Due is not paid within 45 days, a $50 civil penalty is assessed for each unpaid transaction. The vote by the MDTA Board cuts the penalty to $25, and is the result of analysis and feedback from customer, legal and financial perspectives.

“Today’s vote by the MDTA Board to lower the civil penalty is the right decision for our customers,” said Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary and MDTA Chairman Gregory Slater. “Our goal is to make our facilities accessible, reliable and affordable for everyone, and this vote helps us toward that mission.”

The reduction in civil penalties is expected to save Marylanders $7.4 million annually, and represents one segment of toll relief implemented under the administration of Governor Larry Hogan.

Since 2014, Governor Hogan has announced up to $351 million in combined savings for Marylanders through toll-related reductions.

The MDTA next generation electronic toll collection system coming online in July will allow new payment options that previously were limited by existing technology.

“As we continue converting our facilities to all-electronic tolling, we want to improve the customer experience by providing as many payment options as possible,” said MDTA Executive Director James F. Ports, Jr. “And we are always looking for more ways to reduce costs for our customers.”

Early Payment Discount

The early payment discount also approved by the MDTA Board provides customers with a 15% discount, up to $5 off the video toll rate, when they pay their Notice of Toll Due within a specified timeframe and prior to the mailing of the notice. This passes operational savings onto customers who proactively use one of the MDTA’s self-service options, including payment online or through MDTA’s phone interactive voice response system. In addition, a mobile app is coming soon.

Originally approved to go live in December 2020, the early payment discount will begin July 1. This discount is part of the overall toll modernization plan approved by the MDTA Board in November to enhance customer service and save Marylanders more than $28 million over five years. The package also includes a new Pay by Plate method and new vehicle classes with lower toll rates.

Pay by Plate

This new payment method benefits infrequent customers and those who don’t want to maintain an E-ZPass® account prepaid balance. Customers pay “as they go” by registering their license plate and credit card. Originally scheduled to go live June 2020, the MDTA Board approved Pay by Plate to start July 1 to coincide with the new toll system implementation.

Pay by Plate toll rates were approved in November, and mirror the cash and non-E-ZPass® Maryland rates for MDTA bridges, tunnels and the JFK Memorial Highway (I-95). They are 25% higher than the E-ZPass® rates on the Intercounty Connector (ICC)/MD 200 and I-95 Express Toll Lanes (ETL).

Pay by Plate will benefit customers who pay by cash today and prefer not to open an E-ZPass® account when the MDTA transitions to all-electronic tolling at all its facilities in the future. Customers who choose Pay by Plate will save money versus video tolling, which includes a 50% surcharge.

New Vehicle Classes & Lower Toll Rates

Another part of the plan approved in November is lower rates for certain vehicle classes, providing a 50% reduction in tolls for motorcycles and reductions of 25% and 17%, respectively, for “light” vehicles towing one- and two-axle trailers. These new classes and rates will go live in September.

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