January 14, 2008

So what DOES happen with that money?

Here's something you wouldn't know unless you had a toll tag : You have to keep a $10 balance at all times on your account. In fact, when you get below $10, it autodebits your account and 'replenishes' it. Normally, my balance is anywhere from $10 to $30.

I'd be willing to bet your is as well and therein lies the rub. While that money is sitting in the account, TXDOT is earning interest on it. What are they doing with the money? Funding their PR campaign to sell still more toll roads.

Still think it's crazy that TXDOT is looking for a funding mechanism independent of the Lege?

Motorists who use the TxTag electronic transponders to drive on Texas toll roads are having their accounts raided by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The agency requires a bare minimum of $10 be kept in any account at all times. If the balance falls below this level, TxDOT automatically charges the credit card on file $20. TxDOT then pockets the interest accumulated from the accounts linked to the 390,000 vehicles equipped with TxTags.

An average account generates about $1 in interest every year. Although $1 is not much, Texas tolling authorities have mailed motorists bills for 25 cents in alleged unpaid tolls and added penalties of $5.25 on anyone who ignored payment of the trivial amount.

For TxDOT, keeping the interest on the $9.8 million in motorist accounts generates about $400,000 in annual revenue. The money helps defray the cost of the multi-million dollar Keep Texas Moving public relations campaign designed to convince Texans of the need for more toll roads.

Anyone in the Lege wanna step in here? Maybe there's a reader out there who'd like to tell the Sunset Commission what you think about TXDOT's little funding scheme? Maybe get the Fed involved?

H/T to Muckraker

Posted by mcblogger at January 14, 2008 02:41 PM

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I signed up and paid for my TxTag online, but unchecked the box to give them permission to auto-debit. Works just fine: my account dips below 10 bucks, they send me an e-mail alerting me to that fact, and I decide whether it's close enough to an emergency to get back on the account and fork over another 20. If I'm out of state and won't be back for a while,I ignore the e-mail, and they send me another copy the next month.

So they make less interest off me than they do off you - your point(s) remain(s) the same.

Posted by: Amerloc [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2008 07:36 PM

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