McAuliffe to ERC: ‘Get your act together’

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Gov. Terry McAuliffe was in Virginia Beach Tuesday to sign legislation eliminating the monthly E-ZPass fee. While he was here, 10 On Your Side learned he isn’t happy with the people at Elizabeth River Crossings.

Gov. McAuliffe signed SB156 into law around 10 a.m. at the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Hampton Roads Transportation Operations Center in Virginia Beach. The bill, which was passed by the General Assembly earlier in the year, eliminates the 50-cent monthly fee on standard E-ZPass transponders and the $1 monthly fee on the E-ZPass Flex transponders.

After the signing ceremony, 10 On Your Side asked the Governor about the latest glitch in the E-ZPass billing system. He did not hesitate: “Well, we’re reviewing it, and I’m outraged that people are paying twice. They need to get their act together.”

The governor is talking about Elizabeth River Crossings, the company that oversees tolling at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels.

Hundreds in Hampton Roads say they received bills or notices in the mail — even though they have an E-ZPass transponder that should have deducted the toll.

The governor was very straight forward, giving ERC a simple directive — “It’s outrageous.Get your act together and fix it. You’re being paid. Do your job right.”

Governor McAuliffe said the E-ZPass billing system is not working correctly and he’s “outraged” it is happening at the expense of toll payers. The governor said he’s tired of talking about it, and customers are tired of getting incorrect bills.

The bills say “You would have saved $3 with an E-ZPass.” The trouble is — the customer already has one. So, two things went wrong — the sensor did not read the transponder, and the system did not recognize the license plate.

10 On Your Side asked VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kipatrick – why is this happening? He, too, seemed frustrated.

“This is not the first and only electronic toll facility in the world, and they have been having some challenges with what I’ll call their back office, and they have to fix it,” he said.

Elizabeth River Crossings received 300 complaints about the glitch.

WAVY.com asked for an explanation, and an ERC spokesperson explained some accounts weren’t activated, others ran out of funds, some were typos in the system. She acknowledged some were caused by system error, but said the tolling system has a guaranteed accuracy of 99.9 percent.

One thing is clear — the system is not up to Governor McAuliffe’s standards.

“I have told our secretary of transportation, his entire team, I want them to work with the ERC folks,” McAuliffe said. “We need this fixed, and I want it fixed immediately.”

Kipatrick said his team will not be satisfied until ERC’s system is both consistent and reliable. He said customers billed in error will not have to pay extra fees.

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