Cashless Orange County Toll Road Payments Continue to Confuse Drivers

First-time violations can be forgiven if drivers pay within 48 hours, officials said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Three months after the toll roads went cashless in Orange County, many drivers remain confused with up 17,000 violations by toll users daily. Vikki Vargas reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. from Orange County Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

    Three months after Orange County's toll roads adopted a cash-free payment system, drivers are still confused.

    They're racking up over 17,000 violations a day on the county's 51 miles of toll roads, according to the Transportation Corridor Agency.

    The agency closed cash-collecting toll booths on State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 in May, explaining that only 13 percent of drivers were paying in cash.

    Instead of stopping to pay the toll on the road, drivers can use a FasTrak transponder or sign up for one of three different kinds of payment accounts on The Toll Roads website. The agency also has a mobile app for payments, and first-time payment violations can be forgiven if the driver pays the toll online within 48 hours, officials said.

    The forgiveness period has been extended to the end of September.

    Officials said they are trying to educate commuters on payments through advertising and public events.

    "Most of it is, 'Okay, I drove your roads, what do I need to do?'" said Michael Kramen of the Transportation Corridor Agency.

    But wait times at the agency's call-swamped customer service center are as long as 20 minutes and drivers are getting billed for the violations.

    "They're not answering the phones," said customer Randy McHenry. "They say, 'We have a high call volume and we can't help you.'"

    Driver Sarah Acosta got a bill for driving on State Route 241, which she said she doesn't remember doing. She was charged $60.49 for the violation and $2.99 for the original toll fee.

    "It's a bit of a difference," Acosta said.

    Acosta's violation was her second one. She pleaded her case to officials and said she got her fine reduced to $17.99 after agreeing to set up a FasTrak account.

    Customer Harry Layman uses a FasTrak transponder and said cashless payments can be confusing.

    "There's no people at the toll booths so if you're driving around and you're new to the area, I can understand that, but people who routinely break the rules, I don't understand that," Layman said. 

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