ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Transportation Authority continues to report a huge backlog in the processing of deferred EZPass tolling bills.
In March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency switched to cashless all-electronic tolling statewide.
Although tolls remained in effect, certain billing was temporarily paused between March and October 2020, causing the current backlog of where customers are just now receiving violation notices and overdue penalties, some dating back more than a year ago.
Still, the MDTA refuses to waive late fees. They use the date postmarked on the billing envelope to determine if a payment is late, not the received date.
As result, MDTA offices have been overwhelmed with phone calls most of which result in long wait or hold times.
From the end of July to October 2021 daily calls increased by almost 3,000 which is nearly double the volumes seen when the agency first transitioned to all electronic tolling. In November 2021 alone — 180,000 calls came in.
Short staffing is one of the main reasons behind the long wait or hold times.
When it opened on April 29 of last year, the DriveEzMD call center was staffed with 160 service representatives. By August that number fell to 60.
The recent COVID spike hasn't helped matters. There have been periods where as much as 46 percent of staff was quarantined and unable to answer calls.
In November, WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii reported that there were only 82 agents to field 15,000 calls a day, forcing customers to wait 90 minutes on average to speak with someone.
Although there is no immediate fix, MDTA says there is a callback feature available on the 1-888- 321-6824 customer service line.
The catch is, the feature only activates when staffing levels can accommodate it. When they can, customers can reserve their place in line without holding and receive a call back from a customer-service representative when it's their turn.
Customers can also call 410-537-8400 to schedule an appointment to complete transactions in-person, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Office hours have temporarily been expanded on Thursdays (8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.) and Saturdays (8 a.m. to 12 noon).
MDTA officials say the quickest way to ensure your bill is paid or up-to-date, is to maintain a positive EZPass balance with proper replenishments.
Customers can enroll in automatic replenishment via a linked credit card or bank account. Replenishment amounts can also be charged less frequently if requested, although amounts could be adjusted based on your toll usage.