|Date Requested:February 15, 2011
Time Requested:10:21 AM
| FUND(S) |
Toll Road Revenues
Sources of Revenue
|Other Fund Toll Road Revenues|
Legislation creates:Neither Program nor Fund
Effect this measure will have on costs and revenues of state government.
| This bill would authorize video and electronic enforcement and collection of tolls. No general revenues of the State of West Virginia would be used or impacted by this bill.
Costs of collecting and enforcing tolls through video and electronic tolling systems would be covered by toll revenues and by administrative fees under this bill. To the extent there would be some administrative costs to the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) and the West Virginia Parkways Authority (Parkways Authority), or to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in any significant amount, it is contemplated that such costs would be defrayed by toll revenues and by administrative fees authorized under this bill.
It is important to note that no toll collection jobs would be eliminated on the West Virginia Turnpike if this bill were to be passed. It also is anticipated that, to the extent the West Virginia Parkways Authority may some day collect tolls on other roads besides the Turnpike under Chapter 17, Article 16A of the WV Code, as amended (including by SB 427 enacted in 2010 and effective July 1, 2010), additional toll collection jobs would be required in toll plaza collection work or in back-office toll enforcement and collection work, or both.
Drivers in the U.S.A. who use toll roads are increasingly making use of electronic transponders when traveling on toll roads. This means the issue of effectively collecting and enforcing tolls will be a growing concern to all toll road authorities. In short, this legislation would have a significant deterrent effect and discourage toll evasion. Over time, this is expected to result in avoiding significant revenue losses due to toll evasion.
The exact amount of evaded toll revenues that could be collected with the passage of this bill cannot be pinpointed to an exact dollar figure. However, national toll revenue and traffic experts have advised the Authority that toll evasion is increasing across the country as these modern technologies are more widely adopted by both drivers and toll roads alike.
That is one reason why bond rating agencies likewise examine and consider whether toll road authorities have meaningful video and electronic enforcement and toll collection legislation such as would be provided by this bill.
In any event, it is certain that this legislation will enable the Parkways Authority and the DOH, as applicable, to enforce an administrative fee of $35 per violation on persons whose vehicles pass through a toll barrier (including an electronic toll collection lane (E-ZPass® lane) without paying their tolls. That fee would help defray administrative costs of collecting evaded tolls. Also, persons who are charged with intentionally evading a toll are guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, may be fined in an amount not to exceed $50. These fines would be collected by the magistrate court in which the violations are tried. Also, any person who deliberately damages, defaces or obstructs any video collection system infrastructure or power supply in order to interfere with the operations of the system or electronic toll collection, will be guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined in an amount not to exceed $500 and will be liable to the DOH or Parkways Authority for all repair costs. Passage of this legislation would direct the DMV to refuse to register or renew the registration of any vehicle whose owner has been found to have violated the law and has not paid all administrative fees, charges and fines for toll evasion.
The Parkways Authority is currently in the process of upgrading its 10 year old electronic toll collection system for the West Virginia Turnpike. This new system will have the software capability of tracking toll violations and automatically generating reports, and legislation is necessary to authorize the Parkways Authority to utilize its electronic toll collection system to monitor violations and collect tolls.
Currently, the existing system in place on the West Virginia Turnpike does not have the capability to monitor all violations and generate reports using automated electronic and video equipment, with minimal manual effort or involvement. Presently, the monitoring of violations and the collection of evaded or non-paid tolls by the Parkways Authority does require some manual effort and involvement and is not as automated as modern electronic toll collection and enforcement systems. The use of an updated, largely automated electronic toll collection and enforcement system will be more cost effective than the existing procedures.
Toll violations are transactions where the toll system expected the receipt of a toll but no collection of a toll was recorded. True or habitual toll violations are defined as transactions where receipt of a toll was expected but not collected due to the intentional behavior of the driver. Currently, intentional toll violators represent less than 1% of all transactions on the West Virginia Turnpike (this represents an approximate cost of $20,000 per month). Among toll roads in the northeast, the amount ranges from 1% to 3%. Violation transactions that result from system errors, collector errors or system design limitations are not considered true toll violations because toll revenue was collected for the transactions in question.
The Parkways Authority is most interested in collecting from intentional toll violators, or core violators. A majority of toll violators pass through the dedicated “E-ZPass Only” lanes and avoid those plazas staffed by toll collectors. West Virginia State Police Troop 7 Parkways Division performs periodic spot enforcement at the toll plazas or respond to radio calls from the plazas when an intentional toll violator is identified. Currently, the only method available to the Authority to identify these violators is through human observation or through a video surveillance system that captures the front and rear areas of the vehicle that contain the vehicle’s license plate; however, as mentioned above, the new toll collection system will make the process of identifying and collecting toll from violators more automated.
Again, with regard to toll operations on the West Virginia Turnpike, passage of this bill would not mean the elimination of jobs or a reduction in the work force. In fact, once the new system is in place, an additional employee will most likely be hired for back-office operations due to the files that will generated from the computer system. Because the West Virginia Turnpike is considered a rural toll road, manual collection of toll still represents over 72% of all transactions with the remaining 28% from electronic toll collection.
Passage of this bill, along with the implementation of the new toll collection system which should be completed by 2012, would constitute an economical and fair method of enforcing and collecting toll from users of any toll road in West Virginia.
|Effect of Proposal||Fiscal Year|
|1. Estmated Total Cost||0||0||0|
|Repairs and Alterations||0||0||0|
|2. Estimated Total Revenues||0||0||0|
3. Explanation of above estimates (including long-range effect):
As noted above, no general revenues of the State of West Virginia would be used or impacted by this bill because the costs of collecting and enforcing tolls through electronic tolling systems would be covered by toll revenues and by administrative fees under this bill. That is, to the extent there would be some administrative costs to the DOH and the Parkways Authority, or to DMV in any significant amount, it is contemplated that such costs would be defrayed by toll revenues and by administrative fees authorized under this bill.
| Under existing law (§17-16A-17), it is a misdemeanor to evade tolls or defraud the Parkways Authority or any of its toll collectors in regard to the payment of tolls, and the evasion of a toll carries a fine of $50 per offense. This new statute gives the DOH and the Parkways Authority legal authority to collect tolls and to enforce the collection of tolls through electronic toll collection including the use of a video enforcement system.
Presently, a violation most commonly occurs on the West Virginia Turnpike when a customer does not have an existing E-ZPass® account for the electronic payment of tolls, but travels through an E-ZPass lane at one of the toll barriers without paying the applicable toll.
The majority of other states that have toll roads and bridges have legislation in place that authorizes the applicable tolling agency to collect evaded tolls from violators. Many of these states also allow the tolling agency to collect administrative fees to cover the costs of collecting the evaded tolls, and some states, such as Virginia and California, additionally allow the tolling agency to collect monetary penalties.
Pennsylvania already has electronic toll enforcement and collection legislation in place. With the anticipated opening of the Mon-Fayette Expressway in Monongalia County, approximately 4.2 miles of the Expressway will pass through West Virginia on U. S. Route 43. This bill will permit the Commissioner of Highways to enter into cooperative agreements with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to assist the division in the effective enforcement and collection of tolls for the Expressway, thereby minimizing revenue losses due to toll evasion.