BALTIMORE — At its monthly meeting on Thursday, the Maryland Transportation Authority Board (MDTA) plans to discuss payment assistance options for customers who received backlogged toll bills and steep penalties.
In 2020, the MDTA paused processing toll transactions for seven months. Drivers are now receiving those bills, in large stacks, and have been given a deadline. If they don’t pay within a month, they’ll be charged an additional $25 per toll, which can add up to thousands of dollars.
Baltimore City Senator Cory McCray sponsored Senate Bill 59 that would help drivers who received backlogged tolls, but the Budget and Taxation Committee is waiting to see if the MDTA Board will approve relief measures without legislation.
The Board will consider waiving penalties for backlogged bills, extending bill deadlines, discontinuing referrals of toll bills temporarily to the Central Collections Unit, and hiring more customer service agents to reduce call wait times.
MDTA has said penalties help incentivize drivers to pay toll bills on time. The agency is also governed by a Trust Agreement with its bondholders that limits actions that would impact their revenue.
“They hide behind the Trust Agreement and to be honest with you, Mallory, that's not a good excuse for why you're charging people a thousand percent markup on a late fee. So, you're paying $25 on $2,” said McCray. “This is government at its worst and we can and should be doing better by Marylanders.”
Republican Senator Stephen Hershey (Kent, Queen Anne's, Cecil, and Caroline counties) also sponsored a bill prohibiting fees or civil penalties for bills that were delayed due to COVID-19 related-factors.
If the Board fails to act, McCray said he will continue pushing for legislation.
“The Board should take this up. We hope that they do the right thing. If they do the right thing, we're going to codify it and if they do not do the right thing, we're going to push them by putting it in statute,” said McCray.
The bill would need to crossover to the House of Delegates before March 21 to survive. Senator McCray expects it'll happen sooner if the Board doesn't approve these customer relief options.
If you’re a Maryland driver and need help with E-ZPass tolls, you’re advised to visit a customer service center. Click here for a list of locations and expanded hours of operation.
Drivers can also contact their legislators for assistance.