Thursday, September 20, 2007

Transcore's Double TaxTag

TxTag Glitch Charges Drivers Double

Sep 20, 2007

KXAN (NBC) Austin news
Copyright 2007

Thousands of drivers pay to use the new toll roads of Central Texas, but if they drive along sections of Loop 1 and state highways 130 and 45, they're prone to pay double.

The problem was discovered at the toll plaza at State Highway 45 and Lake Creek Parkway, just east of U.S. Route 183 and State Highway 183A.

One Central Texas man looked more closely at his TxTag statement and wondered how many others had been charged double by mistake, as well.

"I don't use the toll roads all that much, but I use them occasionally," said TxTag owner Marcus Davis. "And so I figured I knew I had a low balance, but it shouldn't have been as low as it was."

The low balance made Davis do a double take because of the double charge at the Lake Creek toll plaza.

"It may be a couple cents here or there, but it's money that I worked hard for, and I'd like it," said Davis.

Luckily, Davis caught the mistake after going through the westbound SH 45 toll booth, which was posted as Lake Creek plaza lane 10. He e-mailed TxTag and eventually got his money back.

The problem hasn't affected drivers just along SH 45, however, and the Texas Department of Transportation doesn't deny the problem.

"It's not on every lane, not at every booth," said Gabriela Garcia of TxDOT. "It does happen very randomly and sporadically, which is why we have a small number of customers that are being affected. It doesn't happen every time."

TxDOT said the glitch starts in the computer software.

"It's a timing issue between the tag readers and the cameras that are in the lanes, so it's that software that links the two together where we have a glitch in that software," said Garcia.

According to TxDOT, the software charges about 150 accounts double the required amount daily. That's out of about 192,000 recorded transactions.

Davis said he is glad his proactive eyes caught the mistake; he just wonders how many others haven't caught the lack of cash in their account.

"If someone is busy, they're just kind of skimming through, or they just don't check it at all, especially if they travel this all the time, that's a lot of money wasted," said Davis.

If you think you've been charged twice, contact the TxTag office online or by phone at (888) 468-9824.

TxDOT is working on the software system, and the agency will start looking at past transactions. Even if people have not contacted the agency yet, their accounts will be credited if they were charged incorrectly.

This problem does not apply to SH 183A.

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