Turnpike collects millions in v-tolls

Investigators

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Jennifer Cherry reached out to ABC27 a few weeks ago after she noticed a high amount of video tolls, or v-tolls, on her E-ZPass account.

“It was a little over $300,” Cherry said.

A v-toll charge means an E-ZPass transponder was not read when a driver exited the turnpike. Because the system cannot determine how far the driver traveled, it charges a flat fee of $10.

Cherry found her transponder, which was over 10 years old, wasn’t working. She was able to get a new transponder and a one time credit to her E-ZPass account.

After she shared her story, several E-ZPass users had questions about how v-tolls work.

“We have been getting increased calls on this,” said Carl DeFebo, a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission spokesman.

So, how may E-ZPass customers have been hit with the $10 v-toll?

“I think it’s a pretty reasonable rate, about 7 or 8 percent of our customers are getting v-tolled somehow,” DeFebo said.

For the 2019 fiscal year, the Turnpike Commission collected over $1 billion in tolls. Almost 77 million of that was v-tolls, leaving some to question if v-tolls are just a way for the commission to generate more money to pay off its $6.5 billion debt.

“We have seen those comments and it is just not true,” DeFebo said. “It is about making sure our customers are doing the right thing so that we are charging them accurate tolls.”

While v-tolls are a disincentive for drivers trying to get a cheaper ride, they are supposed to be a red flag to valid E-ZPass users that their transponder may not be working or isn’t installed correctly. The leading cause of v-tolls is unclear.

“Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know that,” DeFebo said.

One thing is clear when you sign the E-ZPass terms of agreement:

“It is the motorist’s responsibility to make sure your tag is mounted properly and to look online and check your account,” DeFebo said. “We are trying to make sure people are keeping their transponder in their vehicle and mounted properly at all times. That ensures we get paid for the service we are providing.”

The Turnpike Commission is making e-mail addresses a mandatory field when signing up for E-ZPass, saying it’s the “best way to reach customers” when there is an issue.

The turnpike has an app that lets you check your account for any v-tolls and dispute them right away.

2.5 million Pennsylvanians use E-ZPass.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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