See the update at the end of this post on the operator of the tolls roads agreeing to waive fines to first-time offenders through Labor Day.
Remember how closing Orange County toll-road booths was going to increase efficiency?
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 23, 11:55 A.M.: More than 15,000 violations a day since the toll roads went all-electronic would indicate otherwise.
Now, a county supervisor is calling on the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) to waive toll fines all summer. "[I]t's clear that the TCA needs to work harder to keep drivers informed of the new changes," says Todd Spitzer, who is also a TCA board member.
"This roll out was meant to improve the toll road service not burden the driver," Spitzer adds in a statement sent to the Weekly by his Senior Policy Advisor Carrie O'Malley.
Violating the cash free payment collection system currently carries a $57.50 fine, but the TCA waives the penalty for first-timers who pay their tolls within 30 days.
That's obviously not long enough to get the word out about the retirement of toll booths, Spitzer argues.
"At minimum, TCA needs to offer a moratorium on all fines through Labor Day to evaluate if a longer grace period is needed to inform the community of these changes," he says, "and to get the right TCA staff on board to respond to constituent questions."
Spitzer, the county's Third District supervisor, is a member of the boards of the San Joaquin Hills TCA, which manages the 73 toll road that stretches from Newport Beach to San Juan Capistrano, and the Foothill/Eastern TCA, which oversees the 133, 241 and 261 toll roads that link the Orange County/Riverside County border at the 91 freeway to the 5 freeway in Irvine and South County communities.
UPDATE, JUNE 24, 1:34 P.M.: The TCA says it agrees with Supervisor Todd Spitzer and will waive through Labor Day fines for those not equipped to electronically pay for toll-road trips.
However, the forgiveness will only be extended to first-time violators, according to Lisa Telles, the TCA spokeswoman. The toll must still be paid, of course.
She told City News Service that part of the problem is many tourists and occasional visitors who flock to Southern California may not have been exposed to local publicity about all-electronic payments replacing manned toll booths.
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Through Labor Day, a motorist who doesn't pay the first time they use an Orange County toll road will receive a notice with information on how to sign up for the alternative payment methods. Signs about having to prepay or register to be billed have gone up along the 73, 133, 241 or 261 toll roads.
You can register with a credit card or billing information and either pre-pay or receive a bill later. If you are an unregistered driver who uses a toll road, you can contact the agency within 48 hours to pay the toll online with a credit card or through a cell phone application to avoid a citation.
Telles notes online may be better for those trying to pay just under the wire as TCA phone lines can get tied up sometimes.