From the Sun-Sentinel-
Who could possibly confuse a Toyota Corolla for a semi-trailer? Florida's Turnpike, that's who.As you should Ms. Rodruiguez-Miller. Turnpike drivers don't need a repeat of this episode. Drivers in that instance weren't so lucky. Some people were overcharged and paid the bill and told tough luck and others had their licenses suspended.
A glitch at the Commercial Boulevard exit in December and January caused some cars to be charged higher tolls intended for big rigs.
The culprit was a bad treadle, a device embedded in the pavement that counts the number of axles as SunPass drivers pay tolls. As of Tuesday, the turnpike had reimbursed $90,000 to drivers because of the problem, representing 30,000 separate toll transactions where a driver was overcharged.
Bonnie Baskin, who drives a Toyota Corolla, was overbilled more than $12.
"My transponder started making this extra beep. I kept changing the batteries and that didn't stop it. So I decided to check my account online," said Baskin, of Lauderhill. "One time it charged $6, another time $4.50, another $1 and several at 50 cents."
Turnpike tolls are charged based on the distance traveled and the number of axles. The driver of a car or pickup truck, for example, who travels from the Golden Glades to Commercial Boulevard pays a $1.25 toll with SunPass. Big rigs or cars hauling trailers pay more, depending on the number of axles, ranging from $2.50 for three axles to $8.75 for eight axles.
Turnpike officials say they first noted the problem in December during a routine monthly review of all toll plazas.
When technicians inspected the equipment, it was working properly. It wasn't until discrepancies showed up again that officials knew something was wrong with the equipment and replaced it. That was done on Jan. 25.
"Our system is not an intelligent toll system that would automatically notify personnel if there are any anomalies," said turnpike spokeswoman Sonyha Rodriguez-Miller. "It's not something that happens very often. When equipment goes bad, we replace it and if our customers are owed a credit, we will do that."
The turnpike is working to identify drivers who may have been overcharged and will issue refunds to those drivers' SunPass accounts. Because it's tough to distinguish between erroneous charges and legitimate ones for cars pulling trailers or big rigs, some drivers who shouldn't receive a credit may still end up getting one.
"We'd rather err on the side of the customer," Rodriguez-Miller said.
Here the mistake was quickly fixed. At least once in a while government officials learn from their mistakes. This time.....
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