The Washington State Department of Transportation launched an investigation earlier this month after, including in Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula.
Today, the agency has announced that it has resolved the issue by converting infractions into toll payments and dismissing remaining notices. It also encourages Good to Go customers to update their online accounts by June 30. Here's the full release from WSDOT:
Tolling contractor Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp. (ETCC) has made four updates to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolling system, correcting issues that caused some drivers to receive infraction notices in error and not have tolls properly charged to their accounts.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said about 15,000 infractions issued to Good To Go! customers have now been appropriately converted to toll payments, thanks to customers contacting Good to Go! service centers to update their information.
“We know that the tolling system generated some infraction notices that weren’t valid and that this placed a real burden on some of our customers to clear things up,” said Washington Transportation Deputy Secretary Dave Dye. “We apologize to all who were affected by this and we appreciate their help to get this right.”
Many of the remaining infractions faced a court deadline last Friday that could have resulted in toll customers dealing with collection agencies, license tab holds, and credit-rating impacts. Dye said WSDOT asked the court to dismiss the remaining infractions – about 11,000 – rather than put customers in that position. The court will automatically refund all paid toll infractions that were issued between March 19 and June 2. All court hearings scheduled for toll infractions will be automatically cancelled.
The department will continue to pursue remaining toll payments from Good To Go! customers.
About 3 percent of the one-million-a-month users of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge were affected by the problems.
Dye said ETCC identified and addressed four key system defects on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge:
- The system did not properly auto-replenish some accounts.
- The system was not notifying account holders about low balances or expiring credit cards.
- The system was not distinguishing between accounts with low balances and accounts with negative balances.
- The system was unable to track potential violations by both windshield pass number and license plate number.
Separately, ETCC fixed an unrelated problem that prevented its system from reading newly issued Good To Go! passes on SR 167 HOT lanes. The problem, affecting 1,500 accounts, involved the failure of the system to record SR 167 HOT lane charges to new accounts and added to the backlog of transactions that still need to be charged.
“Working closely with ETCC, we have made significant inroads in addressing the technical errors that we are aware of,” Dye said. “This doesn’t necessarily mean that every last potential problem has been uncovered, although we hope so. We would ask our customers to let us know if they encounter any additional problems.”
On the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, once a transaction went into the potential violation queue, the ETCC system was only able to track it by license plate. Since some long-standing Good To Go! accounts did not have updated license plate numbers, the system was unable to identify them as customers, and infractions were issued in error.
While the vast majority of Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll collections are done automatically via Good To Go! windshield passes or at toll booths, a small percentage require the photo backup system because, for a variety of reasons, a pass is unreadable. The photo backup system matches images of license plates to registered Good To Go! accounts for proper toll payment.
The majority of the recent problems can be traced to outdated license plate numbers and expired credit card numbers on accounts. Thousands of Good To Go! customers already have updated their account information, which allowed over 30,000 backlogged transactions to be charged last weekend rather than becoming infractions.
Dye said it is very important, by Thursday, June 30, for all remaining Good To Go! customers to check and update their account information online or by phone, including:
- Reviewing license plate numbers and adding all the vehicles desired to be associated with an account.
- Updating contact information.
- Making sure the account balance is in good standing.
- Updating credit card or bank account information.
Starting July 1, WSDOT will direct ETCC to cross-check the remaining backlog of transactions against updated account information and post tolls appropriately to customer accounts. Drivers who used the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and SR 167 HOT lanes earlier this year might see new transactions from that time period post on their account, and customers will be notified in advance. Customers with questions about any transactions should call the customer service center at 1-866-936-8246.
“Now that we have the system fixes in place, we can move forward processing the remaining backlog of pending toll transactions, which has grown to about 50,000 since June 1 when we asked ETCC to stop mailing infractions,” Dye said. “It’s important that we catch true toll violators, but we also want to prevent sending any more violations to our customers in good standing who may not have updated information on their accounts.”
With the fixes now made to the tolling system, Dye said it is particularly important for Good To Go! customers to double check and update their accounts as needed.
Once all toll transactions have been charged to customer accounts, the remaining backlog will be sent through the violation process. Dye said it is likely there still will be some customers who will be issued infractions if they have not updated their accounts. They should call the customer service center to have the issue resolved.