Public Shaming Complete, NTTA Now Wants to Boot Your Car

NTTA better start stocking up now, because it's got a lot of wheels to boot.
NTTA better start stocking up now, because it's got a lot of wheels to boot.

A few years back, the North Texas Tollway Authority took out those pesky toll booths and replaced them with cameras that, if you happen not to have a toll tag, snap a picture of your license plate and helpfully send you a bill -- or send a bill to the address at which the car you are driving is registered.

The new system would be easier to use, but as Michael Lindenberger wrote last week, the NTTA wasn't simply being kindhearted. Rather, it made the change "with dollar signs in its eyes, and blinders on. It was given advice that said that the cameras it would use to track down the owners of vehicles on its roads that it could count on the revenue flowing in like so much melted gold."

Except that didn't happen. There are more riders, sure, but it turns out that some people just don't pay when you send them a bill. A lot of people, in fact, as the NTTA reminded us last week with its public shaming educational campaign of naming the 25,000 or so top toll violators.

It's already considering civil suits against the most egregious violators. But due process takes so much time and costs a lot of money, so the agency is angling for other options. NTTA executive director Gerry Carrigan summed up the strategy before the Regional Transporation Council on Thursday as "block, ban, and boot."

The block refers to registration. As in drivers who ignore their NTTA bill will be unable to renew their vehicle's registration. "Ban," of course, means repeat offenders won't be allowed to use toll roads, though Carrigan didn't specify how exactly this would be enforced. And "boot" is also self-explanatory.

"It's probably a last resort, but for those who have seen 'Parking Wars,' it's probably an effective tool," Carrigan said.

Michael Morriss, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, gave NTTA's efforts a nod of approval, but the blocking and booting at least require legislative approval. Carrigan said the agency will push for it during the next session.

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