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Lawmakers question MDTA executive director about E-ZPass customer service issues

Posted at 5:34 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 18:10:55-05

BALTIMORE — During a legislative hearing on Wednesday, Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Director Jim Ports said the vendor operating the state's E-ZPass customer service center is adding call center agents.

There are now 93 agents handling on average 15,000 calls per day.

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii first reported last week that there were 82 agents and customers were waiting around 90 minutes to speak with a customer service representative.

READ MORE: "It's been an absolute consumer nightmare" 82 E-ZPass agents handling 15,000+ calls a day

TransCore, the vendor awarded a $272 million contract, was hired to improve customer service, however, MDTA said the company is facing staffing shortages and extremely high call volumes due to a backlog in processing tolls.

Senator Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City) asked Ports about the vendor’s obligations and when this issue will improve.

"I was looking at a WMAR article, the title is "It’s been an absolute consumer nightmare, 82 E-ZPass agents handling 15,000 calls a day" dated November 23rd, and one of the things I think about is what are the contractual obligations of the contractor? How many employees did they submit when they put out the bid, when they put out the RFP?," asked McCray.

"Call center number is based on wait times," Ports responded. "But that backlog was bigger than they anticipated, bigger than we anticipated, but we believe once we get through this and we start looking at some normalcy, they, as I mentioned before, they have four times more call center employees than the previous call center from our previous vendor."

Ports said they continue to add more call center employees and call wait times on Friday, which was the day after Thanksgiving, was down to 43 minutes.

McCray pointed out that if staffing is based on wait times, and there were 160 agents in April handling 3,000 calls, shouldn’t there be more now instead of roughly half that number. Due to time constraints, McCray said he would discuss this issue with Ports after the meeting.

Ports also said he anticipates wait times will be back to normal when the backlog in processing tolls is resolved. That's expected to happen by June 30, 2022.

If customers are having a difficult time reaching an E-ZPass representative by phone, they can visit a customer service center. Click here for a list of locations.

Marylanders can also email their elected officials for additional assistance with the matter.