BALTIMORE (WJZ) — During the early stages of the pandemic, in spring 2020, the Maryland Transportation Authority switched to all-electronic tolling.

In the face of shutdowns and layoffs across the country due to COVID-19, the agency deferred billing for tolls, even though the payments were still in effect.

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MDTA has started processing those deferred tolls, leading to a flood of calls at the agency’s call centers, according to a news release sent out Thursday. Most of the calls are coming from drivers who went through tolls between March 2020 and October 2020 without an E-ZPass.

The deferred toll fees will continue to post until summer 2022, the agency said.

From the end of July 2021 to October 2021, as these tolls have posted and bills have been sent to drivers, the number of calls to MDTA has increased to 3,000 per day, nearly double the usual amount, the agency said.

In November 2021, the center received nearly 180,000 calls.

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The agency said it has also struggled to retain workers in the call center after starting with 160 representatives in April 2021. By August, the number of staffers fell to 60, according to MDTA.

Officials recommend motorists get E-ZPass, which links toll payments to a bank account or credit card and offers discounted rates.

Drivers can also enroll in Pay-By-Plate, which also automatically bills tolls to a valid credit card.

Motorists who haven’t signed up for either option can also pay their tolls online here, and save up to 15% before a toll notice is mailed. MDTA’s five customer service centers are also open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday for people to pay tolls in person, and six Motor Vehicle Administration locations also accept payments.

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Customers who still wish to call the agency at 1-888-321-6824 can also use a callback feature to reserve a place in line.

CBS Baltimore Staff