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WSDOT identifies SR 520 toll billing issue

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Date:  Friday, January 27, 2012

Contact: Good To Go! Customer Service: 1-866-936-8246

SEATTLE – The Washington State Department of Transportation is investigating State Route 520 pass reader errors that may have caused incorrect charges on Good To Go! customer accounts. Toll system engineers installed a fix and the issue does not affect drivers who are billed through Pay By Mail. The toll equipment is still processing transactions and collecting tolls while engineers continue to investigate.

“We closely monitor the percentage of vehicles crossing the SR 520 bridge with toll passes,” said WSDOT Toll Division Director Craig Stone. “During last week’s snowstorm, we noticed several dips in this percentage and started investigating to determine if it was caused by the freezing conditions, a toll equipment problem unrelated to snow or simply irregular traffic volumes associated with the weather.”

Toll system engineers found that the toll equipment’s internal clock was intermittently losing time and re-synching to the correct time. They updated the software on the SR 520 toll readers on Wednesday, Jan. 26, to fix the problem. However, they found that the timing issue started Tuesday, Jan. 17, and some drivers with Good To Go! passes may have been incorrectly charged.

“The issue was sporadic, so some customers may see a series of accurate transactions followed by incorrect charges, such as an additional 25-cents Pay By Plate fee,” Stone said.

WSDOT will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the fix and will continue to identify customers who may have been incorrectly billed.

“Our next step is to ensure customers will not be charged incorrectly and make necessary adjustments to their accounts,” said Stone. “We will not charge the Pay By Plate fee to SR 520 drivers during the week we had this billing issue. If a customer crossed the bridge between Tuesday, Jan. 17, and Wednesday, Jan. 25, we’ll either credit back their account or not charge the 25-cent fee.” 

WSDOT is working to correct the billing errors on the accounts and customers may notice a delay in billing as WSDOT performs quality checks and credits customer accounts. Drivers who crossed the SR 520 bridge between Jan. 17 and 25 and received a 25-cent fee should expect to see a credit on their accounts in 5 - 7 days. We encourage customers to check their accounts and contact the customer center if they have questions.

“We understand that a mischarge is frustrating even if it’s 25 cents,” said Stone. “We held back the transactions as soon as we realized there was a serious problem and are working to fix the accounts that already were billed. We ask for customers’ patience as we correct the billing issues.”

The toll equipment that collects toll transaction information – including the pass readers, license plate cameras and equipment to count vehicle axles – is provided by Telvent. This billing issue was caused by a problem with the pass reader’s internal clock and is not related to the customer service center or back office system.

“We are working closely with WSDOT to fix the problem and will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the correction in place continues to work,” said Telvent Technology Director Darby Swank. “Telvent will work with WSDOT to determine any reimbursements.”

About tolling on the SR 520 bridge

Tolling on SR 520 is expected to raise $1 billion overall toward the $4.65 billion SR 520 bridge replacement and HOV program, which builds 12.8 miles of safety and mobility improvements from Interstate 5 in Seattle to State Route 202 in Redmond. The existing SR 520 floating bridge opened to traffic in 1963, and is vulnerable to sinking during a severe storm after weathering decades of wind and waves. The new bridge will better withstand storms and move more people across the lake with a new transit/HOV lane for buses and carpools in each direction. The target date to open the new bridge to traffic is December 2014.


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