more ipass crap
Fine, fine, fine til your tollway takes your I-PASS away
By Joseph Ryan, Daily Herald Staff Writer
Suburban Chicago, IL - Tollway officials are quietly attempting to add a laundry list of penalties for I-PASS users, including revoking transponders for traffic tickets and charging $25 for drivers whose accounts run dry or who forget the device. The proposals, of which even some tollway directors were unaware, are drawing criticism from a watchdog group, which called them "ridiculous," and a tollway reform leader, who says they "go too far."
Under the proposed rules:
• Get a traffic violation and you could lose your I-PASS
• Fail to properly use your I-PASS, and it may be cut off
• Let your I-PASS account go into debt and pay a $25 fine
• Forget your I-PASS and pay $25
• If you drop change near a toll basket, it belongs to the tollway, and you could face a $75 fine for picking it up.
The new penalties were found in a 46-page document of rule changes submitted to a lawmaker panel charged with overseeing state agency rules.
Tollway officials made no announcement of the proposed changes when they were voted on in October, stressing to reporters the document contained minor changes. One tollway director says she wasn't told about the changes when she voted for the document.
The rules won't take effect until the legislative panel gives a final OK at least three months from now, and the public can submit comments in writing until that point. Tollway users also can force the agency to open a public hearing.
The new penalties likely will catch the average tollway user off guard, says state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, an Evanston Democrat who has spearheaded tollway reform proposals.
"This reaches too far," he said Wednesday. "These can inadvertently spin a web that will trap thousands of honest, law-abiding drivers in serious hidden ... charges."
Schoenberg also said the changes don't jibe with the extra power he sought to give the tollway when he pushed a measure approved this year that handed the agency authority to tow a toll cheat's car and suspend licenses.
Tollway officials insist commuters can trust them to use the new power only to go after the worst offenders.
For example, a provision that broadly allows the tollway to revoke or suspend an I-PASS account if the owner fails "to observe traffic rules or improperly mount(s) the I-PASS transponder," will not be fully used, said tollway spokeswoman Michelle Damico.
Traffic tickets could result in a revoked I-PASS "in extreme cases when I-PASS customers drive recklessly through I-PASS lanes or repeatedly violate speed limits in those lanes," she said in an e-mail response to a reporter's questions.
Damico did not return several calls seeking clarification and further comment Wednesday afternoon.
Damico also said revoking an I-PASS that is not properly mounted "would be the tollway's last resort for customers who ignore the many notices that we send them."
As for the $25 fee for I-PASS users who forget their transponder and go through an I-PASS lane, Damico said that would only be applied if it happens more than 15 times.
The tollway's rule change to stop commuters from picking up change they dropped is intended to increase safety, she said.
"We just don't want people getting out of their cars," Damico said.
Damico did not respond to questions about how the $25 for an empty I-PASS account rule would be implemented and why it is needed.
Currently, if an I-PASS account falls below $0, the tollway keeps track of the usage and pays off the debt when the account is replenished.
In general, Damico said the $25 administrative fees are needed for the tollway to recoup the cost from I-PASS transgressions that result in more work. The rule changes do not stipulate what the fee will be spent on.
But, Terry Pastika, executive director of the suburban Citizen Advocacy Center, a toll watchdog, said what the tollway says it will do and what it does can differ.
"There is nothing laid out in these rules," she said. "I'm appalled."
Betty-Ann Moore, the Liberty Township supervisor who was appointed to the tollway board earlier this year, said she was not informed of the rule changes when she voted on the document in October.
She declined to comment on the proposal's specifics, but said "perhaps some of these issues will be raised now."
Naperville Mayor George Pradel, a tollway board member, said he asked administrators questions about the changes individually and was satisfied there would be leeway so well-intentioned commuters would not be harmed.
"I'm taking them at their word," he said, adding he had confidence in the administration. And Pradle said the tollway maybe should have informed the public.
"We can learn," he said. "And maybe we can also revisit these items."
The public is allowed to submit comments in writing to the tollway regarding the proposed rule changes until Jan. 22. If at least 25 citizens, an organization of more than 100 people or a local government requests a public hearing, the tollway is legally bound to set one up.
After Jan. 22, the tollway can then go through a 45-day process with the panel of state lawmakers, which can vote to prevent the rule changes if they stray to far from state law. During that second process, the public also can submit written comments to the panel.
Fine: Toll officials say power will only be wielded against worst offenders
so there you have it. if you're bored and have time on your hands. go bomb their mailbox with tons of comments about how insane some of those proposed fines are along with suggestions on how to get their shit running right
Last edited by Ernie; 12-16-2005 at 09:45 PM.