A LAW has been passed that in just a few days will bring about a major change for motorists regarding toll payments.
Under a new bill from the Texas legislature, effective September 1, toll booths must promptly notify customers who have credit cards on file of their failed payments.
According to news publication My SanAntonio, the law, dubbed House Bill 2170, was the only one of at least nine toll-related bills to go into effect during this year’s legislature.
The law also requires toll companies to mail an invoice with a clear notice outside the envelope that it contains an invoice that must be paid.
The law applies to users who have Texas Tag electronic stickers issued by the Texas Department of Transportation for automatic toll payment.
Meanwhile, a Texas resident who commutes to work from Northwest Travis County to southeast Austin is already avoiding toll roads by driving completely, The Texas Tribune reported.
That takes Robert Witchel a half to an hour longer at times, but he swore off toll roads about five years ago after the Texan amassed about $600 in unpaid tolls and delay fees that he said he didn’t pay owe.
Although Witchel had a TxDOT-issued electronic TxTag sticker for automatic toll payments, the driver was not informed that his account had not been charged for over a year.
After learning through numerous customer service calls that his payment was stale, the debacle resulted in Witchel paying $120 to settle the debt.
That’s when he decided to leave the Texas tollway system forever.
“It’s a scam,” said Witchel, a US Coast Guard veteran.
Motorists in the state had complained of toll payment problems similar to Witchel’s, draining their bank accounts.
The current toll road system is that if a payment is refused, the driver is mailed an invoice from a toll booth.
Scores of residents complained that they didn’t receive their bills on time or that they didn’t know they owed money because of a problem with their automatic payments.
This was a big problem for them because if they didn’t pay on time, they would incur interest on arrears, sometimes resulting in hundreds of dollars in bills.
Some complaints involve duplicate billing, rejected automatic payments, incorrect billing, and invoices with hundreds of dollars in late fees and fines.
Lawmakers had been reluctant to intervene in the state’s toll road system, which often forces motorists to pay from one point to another — and deal with the frustration of an unexpected bill.
This is reportedly because the tollway system is made up of agencies and contractors, generates more than $2 billion a year, and has improved mobility in Texas’ largest metropolitan areas.
Texas has a fragmented toll road system, of which TxDOT operates 13 of the 42 toll roads in the state, excluding border crossings and bridges or lanes for high-occupancy vehicles.