It is commendable that the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee has approved bills aimed at averting another uncollected toll debacle like the one that has cost Pennsylvania’s turnpike $104 million since converting the fully electronic toll road.
One bill — Senate Bill 1053 — would expand the ways motorists could pay tolls electronically.
A second bill – Senate Bill 1051 – would require the commission to provide an annual report to the Legislative Assembly dealing with uncollected toll revenues, the goal being to avoid unpleasant surprises such as disclosures surrounding $104 million in question.
Unfortunately, these two approvals issued by the Senate committee on February 7 seem to miss a much needed stricter provision. Fortunately, there seems to be time to rectify the omission, if the legislature and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission commit to doing so.
Both entities must make their intentions known to the traveling public in Pennsylvania and explain the reasoning behind their respective positions.
Not to do so because of an unconvincing excuse, such as the volume of work that would be involved, would be unacceptable.
The strictly necessary provision revolves around the need to collect a significant percentage of the $104 million to which the tollway was — and is — entitled.
There are undoubtedly a number of aggressive ways to accomplish this mission, but one that has not been given much thought or recognition, despite having been used in other situations, should be considered with regard to relates to the problem of the toll road.
This is necessary, even if it is only a limited component of a much larger whole and
on a larger scale “retrieve the mission”.
This method of getting the attention of toll evaders – not just those with the biggest outstanding bills but others as well – would be to start publishing their names, addresses and the amounts they owe the toll road in legal notices in certain popular newspapers in their respective states.
It would be a process that would only cost a small fraction of the current price. “faded away” money that can no longer be used for worthwhile toll road improvements.
Counties use such a publication process regarding unpaid property taxes and the prospect of selling tax-delinquent properties during sheriff’s sales. Check the legality of “go after” the toll mocks this way.
Although the Turnpike effort does not involve the confiscation of any vehicles, many fraudsters, faced with the prospect of not paying their toll bill or having their bills become public, might choose to settle their Turnpike debt and, thus, to avoid the embarrassment of having others – possibly including banks and credit card companies – be aware that they cannot always be trusted to repay debts responsibly.
For Pennsylvania and the turnpike, such an effort could start small and then grow as publicity of the enhanced effort spread throughout Pennsylvania and the states beyond.
About 11 million toll evaders are responsible for the $104 million in uncollected revenue, the Turnpike Commission reported. This number of frauds could be indicative of the widespread belief among motorists that Pennsylvania is a toothless victim when it comes to nonpayment.
Now that the uncollected tolls debacle is crystal clear and in front of the public, sufficiently strengthened collection measures should not be “kicked the road.”