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.
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.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.