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9/7/2008
Australia: 650 Bogus Toll Road Photo Tickets Refunded
Australian toll road operator admits 650 were wrongly fined by photo ticketing cameras.

Lane Cove Tunnel cameras
The operators of an Australian toll road have admitted to falsely accusing 650 motorists of skipping tolls and agreed to cancel fines and provide full refunds. Connector Motorways admitted to problems with the automated ticketing machines used to catch those eluding the toll gates in Sydney's Lane Cove Tunnel between March and August. In a statement issued Wednesday by the toll operator, thousands of license plate misreads were blamed on drivers.

"Misreads during this process can be attributed to non-standard registration plate frames and obstructions such as tow bars and non-standard numbers," the statement read. "Misreads were an isolated incident and confined to (almost 2000) of the 1.7 million motorists who used the Lane Cove Tunnel in August."

The struggling Lane Cove Tunnel depends on the pricey citations for revenue as the project is nearly bankrupt. In May, Moody's reduced its assessment of investments in the Lane Cove Tunnel to junk bond status. The tunnel had relied upon measures to create congestion on Epping Road, a nearby free route, to generate paying traffic. When these efforts failed to generate the expected traffic, operators needed to look to other sources to boost the road's cash flow.

Despite recent efforts of the New South Wales government to make ticket photographs available online, recipients of the bogus Lane Cove citations had no access to the alleged evidence. Those who receive such citations are presumed guilty unless they are able to prove their own innocence.

Source: Lane Cove Tunnel bungle as thousands fined (Sydney Daily Telegraph (Australia), 9/3/2008)

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