5/25/2008Tolling Troubles Multiply Worldwide
Bad publicity over toll road problems forces change in New Hampshire, Florida and Singapore.
Public outrage over unfair treatment of motorists by toll road administrators in the United States and overseas are forcing mild reforms. New Hampshire Governor John Lynch (D) last week signed a law forbidding the motor vehicle department from suspending the drivers' licenses of those accused of skipping out on a toll. Instead, the state will collect fines of up to $1000 and hold the renewal of vehicle registrations until the fines are paid. The move was a direct response to a January incident where an innocent motorist was arrested and booked for failure to pay a single 75 cent toll -- a toll that he had actually paid. (View new law)
In Florida, toll road agencies have told lawmakers that they might not oppose a similar modification to state laws imposing harsh penalties on toll cheats. The officials are motivated by bad publicity in the wake of a Circuit Court Judge John Galluzzo's ruling that banned the imposition of any penalties on motorists with a valid toll transponder account. Galluzzo was outraged by the treatment of a firefighter who was falsely accused of cheating and nearly lost his job as a result (view ruling).
In Singapore, the Land Transport Authority admitted Thursday that around 300 motorists every month were being hit with "problems of compatibility" with its all-electronic system for paying tolls. As a result, drivers have been left to worry whether they would be fined for cheating each time they use the country's toll roads. As a stopgap measure, all motorists were asked last week to take their transponder in to testing stations for regular inspection.
"Motorists, whose NETS CashCard or In-Vehicle Unit (IU) is found to be faulty, will get a one-for-one NETS CashCard or IU replacement, and the administrative fee waived," the agency said in a statement.
The agency also lowered tolls yesterday by 50 cents. The cheaper driving tax rates will stay in effect until June 21.