$184 million in bridge toll debt! Bay Area motorists will soon be compelled to repay their unpaid bridge tolls.
There was a time when you woke up daily feeling unbothered about toll debt because you had a toll collector at your disposal to always take your due fee from you. However, the story has changed since March 10, 2020, when the Metropolitan Transportation Commission eliminated toll collectors and replaced them with new measures to collect toll fees from drivers. Fast forward to now, it seems the new measures are not going well for the motorists due to the accumulated debts.
According to the MTC, 396,000 motorists have ended up owing between $22 and $88, 101,000 owe between $110 and $418, and 13,000 owe more than $1,600, who, as a result of that, should be expecting to be contacted by collection agencies. Meanwhile, most of these fines include late payment penalties, which could have been easily avoided using Uproad.
On June 8, the MTC’s Bay Area Toll Authority voted to start discharging all unpaid tolls to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which can then take action by not renewing people’s car registration until their tolls are paid.
The agency had halted its policy of forwarding unpaid toll violations to the California DMV at the commencement of the pandemic. Also, after eliminating toll collectors, they required drivers to pay tolls either with a FasTrak transponder or a bill sent to the address listed on their vehicle’s registration. However, the recent action indicates a return to pre-pandemic penalties for drivers failing to pay to cross any of the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges.
The MTC is working to develop a means-based repayment schedule for those earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to stagger their payments. That is, those who earn roughly $27,000 each for a person per year, or $55,000 for a family of four. Reviewers of this plan, however, had pointed out that these requirements exclude a large number of people who are still struggling financially amidst not meeting these requirements.
Candy Smallwood, an East Bay Community Law Center staff attorney, stated thus at the BATA meeting on June 8; “DMV holds disproportionately affect low-income people. They should not be used at all.” She furthermore said, “The DMV holds forces people to choose between breaking the law and getting to work or to and from doctor’s appointments. DMV holds criminalize poverty.”
It is evident advocates are worried about the effect such plans will have on low-income communities that depend on their cars on a daily basis. Supervisor Hillary Ronen also said at the meeting, “I don’t even know how a family of four survives in the Bay Area on $55,000.”
Notwithstanding, the MTC views the clampdown as essential in order to recover the $50 million in toll fees and $134 million in late payment costs owed by the public before the pile of unpaid violations begins to expire in 2024.
“We’re obliged to be a careful steward of a vital public asset,” “We have an obligation to fund voter-approved projects that are funded with toll dollars.” John Goodwin, the MTC Spokesperson, told SFGATE.
By January 2023, Goodwin anticipates that the DMV will receive the first notices of non-commercial violations. While till then, MTC will launch “a very aggressive public information campaign,” according to executive director Therese McMillan, to inform people about the low-income-based payment plan.
After learning the consequences of now being in toll debt, it is best to stay afloat by beginning to stagger your debt payments from now on and be debt-free in no time. Uproad offers the easiest way to get this done.
With Uproad, the toll agencies get paid right away. It’s an easy-to-use app. You don’t need to go through the hassles of getting a toll agency account, tag, or transponder to use it. You just need to install the app on your phone, and add your vehicle license plate and payment method to easily pay all your future tolls (like Goethals Bridge toll) and start tracking your toll road usage.
Using Uproad? Then you don’t need to worry anymore about;
- Unknown toll costs
- Surprise fines and fees
- Confusing toll rates
- Bills in the mail
- Waiting for a transponder in the mail
Uproad makes toll payments easier for you. You can start driving through tolls within 24 hours of setting up your account, and your account automatically pays future toll agency bills when due. All you need to do is set it and forget it! You can also use the Trip Calculator to estimate how much you’ll spend on the road and manage your budget to avoid further debts.