Remember, the NTTA's Hiking Rates Friday

Categories: Transportation
dallasnorthtoll.jpg
A lifelong Friend of Unfair Park just called from the southbound lanes of the Dallas North Tollway wondering how in the hell did he miss the news that come Friday, the North Texas Tollway Authority's jacking up rates, according to the flashing heads-up greeting motorists this morning. That's understandable: The rate hike was actually OK'd in '09, and this year's warranted but a few briefs here and there a couple of weeks back following an NTTA news release. And it won't be the last: They're now "regularly scheduled."

In its latest newsletter, the NTTA explains:
To deliver regional transportation projects to relieve congestion, preserve a strong and financially viable system and maintain quality, safe and reliable roadways, the NTTA will implement a regularly scheduled toll rate increase of 0.8 cents per mile. The toll rate policy provides for a 50 percent price difference between TollTag and ZipCash rates.
Here's the trip-rate chart that goes into effect July 1, showing how much the trip costs depending upon where you enter and exit the tollroad. (From Parker Road to downtown, it'll run you $3.13 each way with a TollTag; otherwise, it's a whopping $4.71.) Victor Vandergriff, chair of the secretive NTTA, says, yeah, it sucks to raise rates right now, so sorry. But, ya know, whatever:
"The Board understands these rate increases come during challenging economic times. However, raising rates is a planned and necessary step the NTTA needs to take in order to maintain a viable financial system and to deliver the many mobility projects that bring growth to the North Texas region."
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Matt Chappel
Matt Chappel

Everyone needs to keep an extra eye on the NTTA.... They've been getting desperate in this poor economy... Like, to the point where they'll call you via their "collection agency" Southwest Credit Systems, and tell you that you owe them bogus amounts.

For instance... I called the NTTA to make SURE I had no outstanding ZipCash or TollTag balances, only to have "Southwest Credit Systems" (The NTTA) call me and tell me I owed them (are you ready?) $3,000.00

That's right... ONE organization tells me I owe them Zero dollars... and then days later, the SAME organization, under a different name, calls me to tell me I owe them $3,000.00.

Also, watch out for the NTTA charging your TollTag AND sending you ZipCash invoices...

Basically, the NTTA sends bogus bills and hopes you'll just pay them without close scrutiny. I imagine they make an insanely large amount of money using this model.

Scrutinize every single bill you get from these bastards. I guarantee you'll find shady charges.... If you care enough to look. Someone should sue them. Unfortunately, I feel as though the American court system is just as much of a scam as the NTTA.

Kam12
Kam12

And oddly enough, NTTA has nothing on the front page of website advertising rate hikes. What a rip.

Keoki3
Keoki3

What happened to the tax on gasoline to maintain our roads & bridges?  Where's that money going?

Mandy
Mandy

I may be mistaken, but I seem to remember 10 or so years ago that they stated the Dallas North Tollway had paid for itself and they dropped the rate for TollTag customers. I seem to remember my bill actually being a little cheaper until they jacked it up again a year or so later. I don't ever remember it being free.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

This is one result of Texans refusing to pay to index/and or increase the gasoline tax for the past 20+ years, plus electing legislators who changed the law to allow the previously dedicated revenues from the gasoline tax to be diverted into the general fund to subsidize property tax cuts.  We now pay far more every year to travel on tollroads than we would have ever paid in increased gasoline taxes to travel on any road.  We fee and toll ourselves to death. 

Mike
Mike

What do you mean we?  Do you have a mouse in your pocket?  I get along just fine on surface streets.  Where you live, where you work, and how you travel between the two are personal choices.  I decline the option to pay for your choices.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I agree with your point, at least here, we have a choice of incurring the fee.  Many other novel fees aren't optional/opt-in.

Steve
Steve

Robert, didn't the turnpike used to be a tollway, and didn't they stop charging tolls once the road was paid for?  

Yeah, damn sure was, Bob...

http://www.dfwfreeways.info/pa...

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

Since my other half travels from Oak Cliff to Park Rd exit, he takes Inwood all the way up to Galleria, stays on the service road to Park. Never pays a dime, and the timing is only about 10 minutes longer. You can starve the beast to death y'know.

Ranger
Ranger

Instead of raising tolls, how about cutting back on the maintenance of the plants and flowers on the road. I would vote that we do that. i don't care about plants that i drive by in seconds, and certainly don't need to pay for the maintenance via my toll.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

What's important to understand about NTTA, in particular, is that from its inception in 1997, it was designed to basically siphon money from Dallas County (the poorest of the 4 participating counties) and use it to subsidize road building projects in the much wealthier counties of Tarrant, Collin and  Denton.

The way this was done was to put the existing toll road at the time: the Dallas North Tollway (which ran from downtown Dallas to SH 121 in Plano and primarily served Dallas County) and place it under the control of a new board dominated by members from Tarrant County, Collin County, and Denton County.  Since each county gets to appoint 2 members to the board, the logical end result was to use the existing stream of profits thrown off by the Dallas North Toll Road to subsidize the cost of building roads in the 3 other counties.

For those in the know, it was easy to predict the outcome as soon as the structure of the NTTA was announced.  NTTA was created as a means to extract a hidden tax from Dallas County drivers to pay for roads serving Denton, Collin and Tarrant Counties. 

Toll Troll
Toll Troll

So I imagine NTTA board members and employees who came up with the idea of raising fees (and made some really bad decisions and sweetheart vendor deals along the way) are going to see their TollTag bill go up, too. Oh, they get TollTags for free? The NTTA board will always try to find more roads to build and projects to fund because when they're done, they won't have a cush job. Remember how they turned DFW Turnpike into free road once it was paid for? That doesn't fly with NTTA.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

NTTB gotta pay for those failed Collin county toll roads.

Anyone know where you can get historical numbers on the tolls? Ever since they started the tags it seems they've ratcheted up tolls quite rapidly.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Which failed roads would those be?

I love paying in Collin County for roads to serve eastern Dallas and Tarrant Counties.

Buckeye
Buckeye

At the next election, I'm going to vote against my NTTA representative.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

You can't.  They aren't elected officials; they aren't even appointed by elected officials.  They are appointed by existing NTTA board members.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Buckeye - funny. As you know http://www.ntta.org/AboutUs/Bo... shows that all of the NTTA Board are appointed.

"The North Texas Tollway Authority represents Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties and is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors. Each of the four counties within the service area of the NTTA appoints two members. The Governor of Texas appoints one member from a county adjacent to the NTTA's four-county service area. The members of the Board of Directors serve staggered, two-year terms, and no member may be an elected official. From their membership, the directors elect a Chair and Vice Chair."I guess you could determine who, in your county, selected the Director and vote against those elected officials. Good luck with all of that.Taxation without representation?

Buckeye
Buckeye

Thanks Goose.  Now I think my head is about to explo......

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

It's even murkier than that.  Under Texas state law, the individual county representatives are supposed to reflect the "diversity" of each county, but beyond that, it is the NTTA Board-- NOT the individual counties who vote on the county board members.  There appears to be some sort of informal understanding that the county delegates to the NTTA  Board should be endorsed by their respective county commissioners, but it is often the case that the commissioners can't agree among themselves.

The only formal appointment process takes place at the NTTA Board level, county commissioners don't have any formal role in the appointment of delegates from their counties.  That is one of the reasons why the NTTA could give a damn about public opinion for the most part--- they are the rare public body that can select its own board members without any formal oversight by any publicly elected officials in the region they serve.  The only direct ability elected officials have to influence the NTTA is via the single appointee selected by the governor (who obviously isn't beholden to the interests of the four county region).

It is a very, very bad structure from a public policy standpoint.

Deep-Sigh
Deep-Sigh

It's terrible! It looks like the only way to make changes to how the NTTA operates is through the Texas Legislature which oy...would take forever but someone needs to step up.

Matthew Gunter
Matthew Gunter

Just love paying for Collin and Denton County roads......

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

[...raising rates is a planned and necessary step the NTTA needs to take in order to.... deliver the many mobility projects that bring growth to the North Texas region.]

Translation:  the NTTA overcharges drivers on certain existing, profitable toll roads (i.e. the Dallas North Tollway, the George Bush Tollway) to subsidize the construction of money-losing toll roads and bridges in other areas.  In other words, the NTTA has morphed into a device that taxes drivers in Dallas County and parts of Collin County (via excessive tolls relative to the cost of delivering service) to subsidize drivers in Denton County and Tarrant County.

publicnewssense
publicnewssense

What you get for your money is the same thing you get on a non-toll road: wrong-way drivers, clogged traffic, construction delays, debris to dodge, fatal accidents, speeding tickets, etc.You want to make money in Texas? Don't buy an oil well, buy a road -- set up your own fee schedule without public challenge.  

Abhurst
Abhurst

There is a real simple solution to this increase taxation known as toll fees: it's called a license plate flipper that flips your license plate down before you drive through the toll plazas. Just google it. They are not that expensive and will end up saving everyone a lot of money in the long run.

Ron
Ron

You will get arrested doing this as they have your car on camera. They do not need the license number. They will post cops where you have shown to enter the tollway and make the arrest and then they will send you to jail and you will have to pay a huge fine. Not worth it.

TimCov
TimCov

1. They are immoral - You are using a road that was built and is maintained with the money from the tolls collected. If you don't want to pay the toll, don't drive on the toll road.2. I'm pretty sure those flippers are illegal in Texas. As is anything else that makes it where your license plate is not visible.

Anonymous
Anonymous

If only we could set up a fee-for-service model where you actually pay for what you use, rather than this socialist redistribution scheme for select highways...

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Im confused by your comment.  I thought the toll roads were fee for service, if you dont get on the toll road, you dont pay

Anonymous
Anonymous

The DNT subsidizes expansion elsewhere. I'm paying to build other roads. A fee-for-service business model implies that the cost is in some way related to the cost of providing the service.

Anonymous
Anonymous

But you are free to use them of you so choose, with no user charge. You shouldn't cherry pick the best assets from a transportation system and make them private. 

EDM
EDM

Give it a break.  Using your reasoning, we need to tear up the street in front of your house since some how, some way, some miniscule portion of the taxes I have paid to someone during my life went to build, repair, and/or maintain that street, which I NEVER use. :-P

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