Thursday, September 06, 2007

NTTA gets zip cash from new tolling system

NTTA Owed From Zip Cash Tolls

Sep 6, 2007

Bennett Cunningham Reporting
CBS 11 News (Dallas/Fort Worth)
Copyright 2007

Thousands of motorists using the zip cash lanes on Texas tollways are paying just that -- Zip!

According to the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), it is owed nearly $500,000 from non toll-tag users driving through the Wycliffe toll plaza.

The NTTA created zip cash lanes at Wycliffe in January to alleviate traffic due to road construction, thereby eliminating toll booth attendants.

Under the zip cash program customers without toll-tags are allowed to go through toll booths without paying, and when they've racked about $3 in charges, an invoice will is mailed.

The NTTA photographs the license plates of the vehicles passing thorough and sends that car owner a bill. But a lot of people aren't paying.

Clayton Howell of the NTTA says of the people the NTTA has already processed, it�s received a great return.

But if you look at the numbers, there may be some disagreement. According to the NTTA's records, over a recent 4-month period, it's billed motorists $786,000 for driving through zip cash lanes without toll-tags. It spent $30,000 on stamps to mail out invoices and it's owed about $450,000 dollars.

Motorists driving through zip cash lanes were upset. Some drivers told CBS 11 News the NTTA, 'needs to do something.' Others said they enjoy the freedom of no traffic jams.

Last month, the NTTA announced plans to eliminate all toll booth attendants system wide.

Officials say the zip cash system is new and it will take time to collect the money. But remember, the tollway gets its money by issuing bonds and collects tolls to operate, maintain, and pay down its debt. So the longer it takes to collect all the money its due - the longer we will all have to pay the toll, attendants or not.

Tollway officials say people who don�t pay can be fined, their account can go to a collection agency or the Department of Public Safety may issue them a citation.

The law doesn't allow the NTTA to revoke or suspend a driver's license or car registration for failing to pay the toll.

© 2007 CBS Stations Group of Texas Co

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