Toll evaders running out of room
MA now working with NH, ME, RI, and soon NY
IT’S GETTING HARDER AND HARDER to hide from the toll takers.
Massachusetts transportation officials said on Monday that they now have toll reciprocity agreements in place with New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island and are nearing an agreement with all New York state tolling authorities.
The reciprocity agreements mean Massachusetts will work with the other states to help collect tolls incurred by residents who don’t have transponders and refuse to pay. For example, a Massachusetts resident who fails to pay a Rhode Island toll may have difficulty renewing his license until the toll and any late fees are paid. Similarly, drivers from other states who fail to pay their tolls in Massachusetts may face license restrictions here until they pay up.
Jonathan Gulliver, the state’s highway administrator, said he expects to have agreements in place with the various tolling authorities in New York shortly. Gulliver said an agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will only apply to New Yorkers, but he is hopeful an arrangement can be worked out soon that would also apply to New Jersey residents.
Connecticut, whose residents are reportedly the biggest scofflaws when it comes to paying Massachusetts tolls, has chosen not to sign a reciprocity agreement, largely because it wouldn’t see much benefit because it doesn’t operate any toll roads within its borders.
According to Gulliver, 86.25 percent of those driving on Massachusetts toll roads pay using an E-ZPass transponder, which means just under 14 percent don’t. It’s those who don’t, particularly those from out of state, who Massachusetts is pursuing with the reciprocity agreements.
Tolls are a major revenue source for Massachusetts. In fiscal 2018, which ended June 30, the state reported $396.3 million in toll revenue, and has already collected all but $25.9 million of that amount.Maine Gov. Paul LePage this summer complained to Gov. Charlie Baker about how Massachusetts was shaking down Maine residents for tolls and late fees. Despite LePage’s complaints, Gulliver said the reciprocity agreement between Maine and Massachusetts remains unchanged because the agreement is with the Maine Turnpike Authority, which operates independently of LePage’s oversight.
“I think we’re in good shape there,” Gulliver said.