More than 400,000 Drivers Affected
SAN FRANCISCO – Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) released the following statement regarding the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) Oversight Committee’s vote to penalize drivers who weren’t able to pay their toll fees:
“The Bay Area Toll Authority should have identified these drivers sooner to provide earlier notice and create payment plan options. Bay Area drivers should not be penalized because BATA chose to remove their operators. The switch to using technology to pay tolls has disproportionately impacted drivers who don’t have debit or credit cards. Now many drivers who rely on their vehicles for work or to bring their kids to school may face not being able to renew their DMV registrations.
“I’m glad to see that BATA plans to use elements of my bill, AB 2594, including allowing low income individuals to set up payment plans, but I urge them to quickly move to adopt the other reforms in my bill so that more Bay Area drivers can be treated fairly and equitably. No driver should be penalized for driving to get to work.”
When the pandemic began, toll collectors were removed at Bay Area bridges to minimize person-to-person contact. Drivers could pay either electronically with a FasTrak, pay one-time online or receive a notice by mail if they don’t have a transponder. However, this system doesn’t account for notices that can get lost in the mail or sent to the wrong address.
Among the reforms in AB 2594, toll agencies, including agencies collecting tolls for express lanes and toll roads in the Bay Area and Southern California, must:
- Offer a cash-payment option
- Cap fines and late fees
- Establish payment plans for fines and penalties
- Set a minimum time period to pay fines before car registration is suspended for nonpayment
In addition, the DMV must notify people to change the address on their vehicle registration when they are doing so for their driver license, and car rental agencies would be required to provide customers with information about toll agencies’ charges and payment options.