Nearly $27M in unpaid tolls by out-of-state drivers owed to MassDOT

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 1/29/2019

Massachusetts is missing out on nearly $27 million in unpaid tolls from out-of-state motorists as a consequence of a lack of a reciprocity agreement with Connecticut. Regardless, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation says it is still on track with revenue projections.

Since Massachusetts went with electronic tolling in October 2016, the state has been missing out on uncollected tolls. Over the past two years, MassDOT has racked up a bill of approximately $26.8 million in unpaid tolls from mostly out-of-state drivers, a MassDOT spokesperson confirmed with Land Line.

Nearly $3 million of that bill has been added within the past 30 days and not considered overdue. However, the rest has been uncollected for at least one month. Nearly $21 million has been overdue for more than 90 days.

Although tolls are collected from motorists across the country passing through the state, nearly a quarter has come from drivers in Connecticut. According to MassDOT, the state has reciprocity agreements with Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. That means, registrations or licenses can be marked for nonrenewal if toll charges are not paid after 90 days. No such agreement has been made with Connecticut.

MassDOT spokesman Patrick Marvin told Land Line that the department “is continuing to have conversations with several states regarding future reciprocity agreements.” Marvin also noted that law enforcement does not enforce collection of toll charges.

Despite the lost money, MassDOT’s revenue projections are on track. Marvin said that the department has processed about 1 billion transactions since Interstate 90 switched to all-electronic tolling in 2016.

“These outstanding charges do not necessarily equate to lost revenue, as MassDOT has several measures in place to collect these funds,” Marvin said in a statement. “These measures include contacting customers several times via U.S. mail to ensure they are aware of their outstanding charges and consistent review of billing details to ensure correct customer contact information.”

Before Massachusetts installed the all-electronic tolling system, MassDOT had estimated that approximately 4 to 5 percent of total tolling revenue would go uncollected. According to the department’s operating budget for fiscal year 2019, total revenue is projected to be $558 million for fiscal year 2018 and $573 million for fiscal year 2019.

According to MassDOT, 86 percent of tolling trips along I-90 are billed through E-ZPass, which automatically deducts funds from a customer’s account. More than 2.5 million out-of-state customers have made at least one payment via Pay By Plate since October 2016.

“As millions more customers have utilized the Pay By Plate system, the amount of outstanding charges and fees has increased as expected, and MassDOT expects to collect the majority of these outstanding amounts,” Marvin said.

 

 

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