By Cristina Mendez

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) — The Maryland Transportation Authority has been receiving an unprecedented amount of phone calls following the ongoing processing of deferred tolls.

The MDTA switched to an all-electronic tolling system to protect collectors and the traveling public in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Weighing shutdowns and layoffs, the agency deferred billing for tolls in the spring of 2020.

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Now, MDTA has begun to process those fees. As a result, a growing number of people are calling the call center. Most of the calls have been made drivers who went through toll booths between March 2020 through October 2020 without an E-ZPass, according to the agency. The agency shared an example from November 2021 where the center received 180,000 calls.

“I just tried to call yesterday (Thursday). All day, I was trying to get them to answer the phone,” Dundalk resident John Davis said. “You can only take so much. They’re not answering the phones at all.”

The deferred tolls will continue to post until summer 2022.

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Aside from complaints about the long wait times to get through to the call center, Davis and several other people allege the MDTA is overcharging during the processing of tolls.

“They charged me $120. It’s supposed to be $30,” Davis said. “What I owe them, I’ll pay them. But if I don’t owe them that, I don’t think I should have to pay it.”

The most cost-effective way to travel toll roads in Maryland is to utilize an E-ZPass, according to MDTA officials. The transponder is linked to a bank account or credit card. The agency recommends that people maintain a positive balance on their accounts and ensure their current vehicles are listed on the transponder. Drivers can also enroll in Pay-By-Plate, which automatically debits their account.

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If a person needs to pay a toll bill, then they can do so in-person at a customer service center Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Also, they can use the callback feature when staff is able to support it. The number for that feature is 1-888-321-6824.

Cristina Mendez