CA-125 Toll Road Fiasco

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Submitted by Jim Jones on August 5, 2008 - 5:30pm

Today I was taking a trip back on the CA-125 toll road back to Chula Vista. When I arrived at the toll station to pay the $2.50 toll charge I was told by an employee at the machine that it was malfunctioning. He gave me a business card and told me to call the customer assistance department to pay the $2.50 toll. If I didn't do this I would be issued a fine (I am not sure what the amount of the fine is).

When I get home I call the number and speak to the customer service representative and ask to speak to a supervisor. She states the only way to speak to a supervisor is to mail a letter or email them with you complaint. She then stated that she would take my $2.50 charge over the phone and waive the "administrative fee". How can you charge and "administrative fee" when the fault was with the roads payment machine! At this point I told her to take my name and number and have a supervisor call me.

Can you believe it, the toll road has a malfunction but they expect you to bend over backwards to pay the fine! The roads motto is "put the fun back in driving". Give me a break!

Submitted by bsrsharma on August 5, 2008 - 6:17pm.

I think I missed the problem. The customer service lady wants to take $2.50 and close the book, so where is the need to escalate any "problem" to supervisor? That administrative fee procedural step is probably for those who did not pay for one reason or other at the toll booth when it is working (e.g. forgot wallet, no cash/change, credit card bad/refused etc.)

Submitted by patientlywaiting on August 5, 2008 - 7:37pm.

I'm with Jim Jones on this. The CSR was not very tactful. She should just have been pleasant, processed the transaction without even mentioning the administrative fee. Bad training.

The toll operator caused the aggravation so complaining to supervisor is the proper thing to do. They should be able to collect cash or credit on site without adding to the aggravation.

Submitted by Eugene on August 5, 2008 - 8:19pm.

I took a free trip on CA-125 on one occasion, because the machine was malfunctioning, there was no one around to take my cash, and the onramp was designed in such a way that it was impossible to make a U-turn. I did not get any tickets.

Realistically, if you go through the booth without paying because it's offline, you can't get a ticket because there's no record of you ever passing through there. Such record could only be generated by the booth itself.

Submitted by flu on August 5, 2008 - 9:06pm.

why don't you folks just remove your front license plate and install a rear flip up switch for the back to to equalize things? :)

Actually, things work really well when you have a brand new car with fresh dealer plates. That happened once, without me realizing I didn't have my fasttrak with me..Oops.

Submitted by Jim Jones on August 5, 2008 - 10:31pm.

Well, a bit of an update. I had a supervisor call a few hours ago to discuss the matter with me.

Her reasoning on the subject is that if I was to go to the supermarket and put a bunch of things in the cart, get to the checkout and all of them were malfunctioning I couldn't just walk out of the store without paying could I. I agreed that in this case she was correct but my actual complaint was based on the fact that I had to use my time to correct a deficiency which existed on their end.

By entering the toll road I did in fact enter into a contract to pay for the service. But since the toll booth was out of order I was not able to make the payment. Legally I could have placed 3 $1 bills in the big basket drove off and argued my case in court if that is what it came to but instead I chose to call and find out why they would put a customer out like this. Her answer is that under California law they cannot offer a free toll to ANYONE and are obligated by law to collect the fee regardless of the circumstances.

At this point I didn't want to give her any more problems because I could see that there was nothing more she could do under the circumstances if the law actually does require this. I suggested that they allow the machine to accept a credit card like a gas pump in case the coin slot or bill reader gets jammed up and possibly find another way to collect the cash on site if the machine is out of order.

She offered me a bunch of toll credits for my inconvenience but I always feel "dirty" if I take something for free like that. Its like hush money and my complaint looses its integrity. I then offered to pay the $2.50 cents by credit card.

While I didn't agree with the supervisors reasoning and the companies policy in the end at least she was reasonable enough to agree to bring up my complaint to management as well as a couple of my suggestions. What else can you ask for.

PS I wanted to ask if the DMV in Mexico was equally cooperative as the California DMV in providing information when one of their citizens takes a trip on the road and does not pay. I can only imagine what the collect rate is from that process.

Submitted by Eugene on August 5, 2008 - 11:19pm.

Her reasoning on the subject is that if I was to go to the supermarket and put a bunch of things in the cart, get to the checkout and all of them were malfunctioning I couldn't just walk out of the store without paying could I.

There is a big difference. In the supermarket, if all checkouts are malfunctioning, you can leave the cart behind and walk away. On CA-125, if the booth is broken, there's no possibility to back out.

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=32.66...

Submitted by Shadowfax on August 5, 2008 - 11:32pm.

I found myself--unwittingly--on the toll road early one morning, got to the toll booth and tried to figure out what the toll was. There was no attendant, no signs, just a number to call. I actually sat at the booth (no one behind me the whole time--it was pretty late) called the number but couldn't reach anyone. Couldn't turn around, so I drove through.

Well, for my trouble and good intentions, I received a notice that I would be fined some ridiculous amount (hundred bucks, I think). Then I read the fine print--I would be fined if I didn't pay the toll (after the fact). So I called and paid the fine. I grew up on teh east coast--quite a few toll roads there (turnpikes). They have a basket where you throw in your change and/or they man one or two gates with real people--all night!

Point is, I feel your pain. it's ludicrous to set up a toll booth and then not have it work properly or be set up (in modern california) for all the different possibilities, then impose on the driver to pay the fee.

I remember the stores in the mall out in those parts was having some killer sales...maybe the toll road just isn't getting used enough?

Submitted by bsrsharma on August 6, 2008 - 7:27am.

if all checkouts are malfunctioning

The supermarket wants you to have a free lunch!

Just like when the credit market is malfunctioning, they want you to have a free house.

Submitted by Aecetia on August 6, 2008 - 7:59am.

I think you did the right thing, both times. You rightfully complained and you took care of it. I think they have a personnel problem.

Submitted by Jim Jones on August 6, 2008 - 10:07am.

Shadowfax wrote:

I remember the stores in the mall out in those parts was having some killer sales...maybe the toll road just isn't getting used enough?

From what I have seen living down here to I don't think that Otay Ranch Town Center Mall is doing very well either, the anchor stores will probably survive but the small boutique shops are getting hammered. You cant afford $200 designer jeans when you McMansion just tanked in value by $250,000 and you owe all that money back because you pulled it out on a HELOC!

As for the toll road first is should have been built as a major artery by the government to help trucks move the the border. Second the price is way to high for the trip. I only take the toll road if I am in Santee and heading back to east Chula Vista. I save money on gas not having to take the surface streets or driving back to the 805. Third I don't think they are bringing in the money they expected to. Even at rush hour the road is not very busy.

If they were smart they would let people by toll trips up front on the FastTrack system at a discount and use them when they wanted like a pay as you go. The tolls should also be variable. To pay $2.50 on Saturday morning when the road is dead empty is not a smart business model. Charge the full toll at peak times and lower it at others.

Submitted by Jim Jones on January 14, 2009 - 12:11am.

Just an update on the toll road down here in the South Bay. They say they get 30,000 vehicles a day I find that number to be on the high side.

It looks like toll are about to go up also. I am for bailing this one out as it should have never been a toll road in the first place. They developers should have been forced by the city to kick in if they wanted to build in the area.

Tollway prices to increase next week
30,000 vehicles use South Bay roadway
By Steve Schmidt (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:00 a.m. January 13, 2009

The cost of driving the South Bay Expressway, the four-lane tollway that debuted in late 2007, will increase by as much as 75 cents starting late next week.

South Bay Expressway Ltd. Partnership, the private company that manages the north-south road, announced yesterday that it would boost tolls effective Jan. 24.

“Obviously, no one likes it when prices go up,” said Greg Hulsizer, company chief executive officer. He said the increases are needed to cover additional operating costs, including recent increases in property taxes, water bills and what the California Highway Patrol charges to patrol the roadway.

Tolls for cash-paying customers will increase 50 to 75 cents, to a range of $2.50 to $4.50 per trip, depending on length. The highway runs from Spring Valley to Otay Mesa.

Many motorists using FasTrak, an electronic tolling device, will pay 25 to 50 cents more than they do now, with a range of $2 to $3.85 per trip. FasTrak rides between Birch Road and East H Street in Chula Vista will continue to cost 75 cents.

Hulsizer said just under 30,000 vehicles travel at least part of the 10-mile roadway each weekday, easing congestion on Interstate 805 and other roads.

He said his company recently informed local and state agencies, including the city of Chula Vista, about the toll increases. He said no major objections were raised.

As part of its 35-year contract with the state, the company can periodically raise rates to cover the cost of managing and maintaining the tollway.

Hulsizer said the increases are unrelated to the financial problems facing the partnership's parent company, Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Australia, one of the world's largest toll road operators.

According to Australian media reports, the value of Macquarie's global toll road portfolio has plunged in recent months, partly due to a drop traffic volume.

http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2...

Submitted by moxiecalifornia on January 28, 2009 - 11:48am.

I heard that it was never supposed to be a toll road, and that housing developers promised buyers that the 125 would make the commute into the city easier. When I bought my house in April I thought the toll was unusually high, even when I got the fast track I ended up spending at least 80 dollars a month just on tolls. Now they want to increase it? Are you kidding?! It's an insult as it is that when I have visitors to my house that they either have to spend money on the toll, or make the painful drive to the 805. If the company kept to their original budget we would never have had this problem. Don't they also realize that lowering the toll would increase the amount of people on the road and balance out or even make them more money?

Submitted by DWCAP on January 28, 2009 - 12:06pm.

moxiecalifornia wrote:
I heard that it was never supposed to be a toll road, and that housing developers promised buyers that the 125 would make the commute into the city easier. When I bought my house in April I thought the toll was unusually high, even when I got the fast track I ended up spending at least 80 dollars a month just on tolls. Now they want to increase it? Are you kidding?! It's an insult as it is that when I have visitors to my house that they either have to spend money on the toll, or make the painful drive to the 805. If the company kept to their original budget we would never have had this problem. Don't they also realize that lowering the toll would increase the amount of people on the road and balance out or even make them more money?

Usually toll roads dont want to increase the number of people using them, because part of the reason people pay for them is that there will be no traffic.

Submitted by patientlywaiting on January 28, 2009 - 12:52pm.

[quote=moxiecalifornia]I heard that it was never supposed to be a toll road, and that housing developers promised buyers that the 125 would make the commute into the city easier. When I bought my house in April I thought the toll was unusually high, even when I got the fast track I ended up spending at least 80 dollars a month just on tolls. Now they want to increase it? Are you kidding?! It's an insult as it is that when I have visitors to my house that they either have to spend money on the toll, or make the painful drive to the 805. [quote]

Another case of I-bought-my-house-and-now-I-want-a-bailout.

Submitted by equalizer on January 28, 2009 - 6:23pm.

DWCAP wrote:
moxiecalifornia wrote:
I heard that it was never supposed to be a toll road, and that housing developers promised buyers that the 125 would make the commute into the city easier. When I bought my house in April I thought the toll was unusually high, even when I got the fast track I ended up spending at least 80 dollars a month just on tolls. Now they want to increase it? Are you kidding?! It's an insult as it is that when I have visitors to my house that they either have to spend money on the toll, or make the painful drive to the 805. If the company kept to their original budget we would never have had this problem. Don't they also realize that lowering the toll would increase the amount of people on the road and balance out or even make them more money?

Usually toll roads dont want to increase the number of people using them, because part of the reason people pay for them is that there will be no traffic.


Also, the toll road operator usually pays for maintenance so they dont want big trucks or too much traffic cause they would have to fix the road early.

Submitted by NeetaT on January 28, 2009 - 7:11pm.

All toll roads are fronts for skimming operations.

Submitted by David Brammer II on March 20, 2009 - 10:26am.

CROOKS THEY ARE. I got on the 125 by mistake one morning (Saturday) and found myself with no money on me. I called from the booth as I exited to explain my situation. Once I got off the toll road I found myself in an area unknown to me. So I went to the toll booth on the other side and called once again explaing I wanted to pay but couldn't. They say they will call you back within 2 business days if you leave a message. I left a mssage both times while at the booths and even waved to the camera. I never got the call but rather TWO toll violations adding up to $80. I was outraged. I sent So. Bay Expressway my letter of explanation along with pictures of my cell phone showing I made the calls. I also asked why a toll evader would call to pay and that the only evading was on their part for not returning my calls. They sent me a letter saying I was still guilty of toll evasion. BTW the post mark from their letter was the same date they received my letter. This led to me emailing them over and over asking how could they do an investigation within minutes? They had to of do it minutes if my letter arrived the same day theirs went out. NOPE still have to pay. I finally started including my local leaders in my emails and threatened to take them to real court and bypass this so called toll officer. Mid January I received a letter stating I was not guilty of toll evasion and would receive my money back within 3-4 weeks. Here it is MARCH 20 almost 8 weeks later and still no sign of my money. I called last week and they said my check was being sent out on Monday March 16. March 19 I called to ask where my money was because I know it doesn't take 3 days for a letter to travel drom CV to Lemon Grove. Their latest story is I paid by credit card and they are processing those now and I will have my money by next week. WELL I WANT DOUBLE. How can they force me to pay on time or double my fines while not giving me my money back when they said? If any one knows if they are in vioation please let me know.

Submitted by svelte on March 20, 2009 - 5:51pm.

David Brammer II wrote:
I got on the 125 by mistake one morning (Saturday) and found myself with no money on me. I called from the booth as I exited to explain my situation. Once I got off the toll road I found myself in an area unknown to me. So I went to the toll booth on the other side and called once again explaing I wanted to pay but couldn't.

I guess I'm confused.

The first time, you mistakenly got on the toll road and then figured out you didn't have any money. Okay, fine.

But...then, knowing you don't have any money, you get back on the toll road?

Are you aware that you could have pulled over somewhere, asked someone for non-toll-road directions, and left the area on that road which would have been free?

Submitted by David Brammer II on March 26, 2009 - 11:31am.

If you are confused, read it again. The point is I won my case and want my money back. Do you know how long they have to pay me back. Okay, to help ease your confusion; There is nothing out there but some homes and I was not about to go door to door with my 4yr old. There is also deception on the toll roads part. If you drive from the 94 to 125 s. they make it appear that the only way to Chula Vista is by way of the 125. BIG FRICKEN GREEN SIGNS WITH ARROWS POINT TO THE 125 FOR CHULA VISTA. BTW what part of CALL IF YOU CAN'T PAY do you not understand? That's what I did and they never called me back...THEY EVADED MY CALLS, I DIDN'T EVADE ANY TOLLS. Now I won and the question is; do you know how long they have to pay me back.

Submitted by unreal on April 7, 2009 - 1:18am.

I too have experienced the "evasion" ticket from 125 toll road. Why havn't they been sued? Their signs tell you what you've paid, not how much to pay. It costs the same $4.50 to travel one mile as it does to cover the entire 13 miles; oh, and if you get off and back on anywhere along the route (like to spend money at any of the businesses for which 125 is supposed to service) you have to pay again. This could actually cost you $22.50 to use 125 for its intended purpose. What?
I ended up with an evasion of toll ticket after paying $4.50 to travel a mile on the South end of 125, and being told at the toll station to turn around and drive back north on 125 to their office for my intended purpose of purchasing a Fast Pass. I exited twice to look for the office, at $4.00, $3.00, and another $3.00 to get back on 125; having to pay at each on-ramp for the rest of the route. There was apparently another pay station that I missed 1/2 mile from the south entrance to the 125. So now I have a $54.50 ticket pending as well as having paid them $14.50 while searching for their "not on the toll road service center." Its so slickly laid out to take your money, that most people don't even have a spot in the panties as a momento of the event.
I'll call them tomorrow and attempt to contest this $54. evasion ticket. I wonder why I didn't think of evading it at the other four stations?

Submitted by sd_matt on April 7, 2009 - 1:56pm.

Yeah they are deceptive.Not that that excuses me for ignorance. So be warned all. If you talk to a person asking about express pass prices then you will get something like "Oh, about $40 a month." Read the site and you'll see that it amounts to $40 a week just to go to Otay and back from La Mesa. Thats what it costs for me. So I just take the 805.

Unless you drive a tank or always get stuck in traffic at the absolute worst times then the 125 is definitely not worth the $$. Taking the 805 is only five to ten minutes difference.

Customer service. There was a closure on one of the exits and no notification via email was sent. I emailed them asking whats up with that. The response essentially blamed CalTrans for not communicating with them. I responded to them to let CalTrans know that I will be using the 125 much less.

Submitted by Jim Jones on April 7, 2009 - 5:33pm.

Has anyone been able to locate any financial information on how the road is operating? With the amount of traffic I see on the road they must be hemorrhaging money.

Submitted by flu on April 7, 2009 - 5:44pm.

Well, if you folks want to get even. After you purchase a new/used car with the dealer plates, make sure you give yourself a bailout by driving on that toll road before you get your real plates :)

Submitted by Jim Jones on April 7, 2009 - 7:52pm.

Flu,

Great idea!

Has anyone else noticed the number of CHP and other state and local law enforcement using the road? I've only taken it about 5 times but each time I have seen at least one cruiser. Not only is the toll outrageous but you run the risk of a traffic fine.

Submitted by diegobeach on August 15, 2009 - 8:16pm.

I have recently received a toll evasion violation notice from South Bay Expressway even though I have never been on that expressway or even in that part of San Diego County. I asked for a review, but was told it still is a valid violation. Now I have asked for hearing. I would like to find out what evidence they have so I can review it and what the hearing process is like. Has anyone else received bogus violation notices?

Submitted by flu on August 15, 2009 - 9:52pm.

diegobeach wrote:
I have recently received a toll evasion violation notice from South Bay Expressway even though I have never been on that expressway or even in that part of San Diego County. I asked for a review, but was told it still is a valid violation. Now I have asked for hearing. I would like to find out what evidence they have so I can review it and what the hearing process is like. Has anyone else received bogus violation notices?

When I had a toll evasion ticketed to me because my fast trak didn't go off, the evasion ticket had a snapshot of my rear license plate. So your ticket should include a picture of your plate if I'm not mistaken. There's also a number if you happen to have a fast trak, you can just ask them to deduct your account.

If you really didn't go on that part of san diego, someone that you loaned your car to certainly decided to have fun with your car.

Submitted by temeculaguy on August 15, 2009 - 10:56pm.

I got one from a toll road in Northern California where I had never driven that car. They sent me a picture with the ticket and it wasn't the same make or model of vehicle (you could see the manufacturer logo above the plate). It turns out the violator had a plastic license plate frame with the dealer's name on it that most cars have but it kinda covered up the bottom part of an "E" and it looked like an "F" which came back to me. I called them, they realized it was a different model of vehicle, ran the plate using an "E" and that matched the brand of the vehicle in the picture and was registered in No Cal. near that toll road and that person had an account with them (or at least that is what they told me). The person was nice, but then again, I was too, sometimes that is needed when dealing with someone who gets complaints all day. They dropped the ticket, haven't heard anything since and that was more than a year ago and I've registered my car since then so I know it went away because if you don't pay they tack it onto your registration. Check into that angle, because some plates are hard to read/obstructed and I imagine some people do it on purpose.

Submitted by PadreBrian on August 16, 2009 - 1:11am.

temeculaguy wrote:
I got one from a toll road in Northern California where I had never driven that car. They sent me a picture with the ticket and it wasn't the same make or model of vehicle (you could see the manufacturer logo above the plate). It turns out the violator had a plastic license plate frame with the dealer's name on it that most cars have but it kinda covered up the bottom part of an "E" and it looked like an "F" which came back to me. I called them, they realized it was a different model of vehicle, ran the plate using an "E" and that matched the brand of the vehicle in the picture and was registered in No Cal. near that toll road and that person had an account with them (or at least that is what they told me). The person was nice, but then again, I was too, sometimes that is needed when dealing with someone who gets complaints all day. They dropped the ticket, haven't heard anything since and that was more than a year ago and I've registered my car since then so I know it went away because if you don't pay they tack it onto your registration. Check into that angle, because some plates are hard to read/obstructed and I imagine some people do it on purpose.

Good story/advice. I suspect something similar happened here.

Submitted by Jim Jones on March 14, 2010 - 1:41pm.

Just an update I found on the toll roads finances. Looks like they are in bad shape

http://www.projectfinancemagazine.com/de...

A 2009 article in the San Diego Reader shows they are nowhere near their projected use numbers.

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2009/...

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