Austin motorists DOUBLE CHARGED on tollways

Link to AP article here. Interesting how this “glitch” didn’t cause under-billing, and the article says the double billing could still happen, just less frequently. How comforting…

DOUBLE BILLING is also occurring in Tyler, TX. See the news story here.

Equipment glitch causes double-billing on Austin toll roads
Associated Press
October 9, 2007

AUSTIN – About 50,000 vehicles have been double-billed on Austin-area tollways because of faulty equipment, Texas Department of Transportation officials said.

The agency said Monday that the problem has occurred about one out of every 600 times a car passed one of the tolling points since charging began in January.

The agency has adjusted its equipment and software in the past few weeks to stop the problem, although it could still occur at a less-frequent rate, like once every 2,000 toll transactions.

Officials said the charges will be reversed for any customers who have been double-billed.

“We will reverse all of them,” said David Powell, the department’s director of turnpike information technology and toll operations.

Powell said the problem occurred at tolling plazas where the overhead flat-panel antennae were out of adjustment, causing faulty communication with electronic toll tags on car windshields.

If the antenna is not aimed correctly, it can read the tag on one car while believing that it is communicating with a car in a different spot. Then, those cars that have already seen debits to their tag accounts might be photographed by the equipment at a different spot and charged again.

Powell said a number of antennae were out of adjustment, but the one causing the most problems was on the westbound center lane at the Lake Creek toll plaza on Texas 45 North.

He said the antennae could have been installed incorrectly or knocked out of adjustment during construction.

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