Last month I took a new vehicle on the GBT taking the same path as last week's journey. Because that was a new vehicle, I don't expect to receive a bill for at least a few years. That way the NTTA can charge me huge late fees and administrative fees in the process.
In my previous blog post regarding the NTTA , I suggested that with the way they handle (or perhaps better stated don't handle) sending out bills and reminders in a timely manner. In my case from my previous blog post, it took over two years before they finally sent me my first bill via a collection agency. When I received the bill, I was charged $175 for $7.34 worth of toll charges. I suggested in that blog post that if the NTTA only treated 20% of the 500,000 (source: CBS estimate) daily users of the NTTA toll system that they could earn approximately $2.3 million per day yielding a total annual income from excessive fees of over $800 million.
This made wonder how much that the NTTA actually earned last year. So scanned through their 2009 NTTA Summary Annual Report. I was shocked by the overview of their financials and the accounting of the use of the tollway at the end of the report. For reference, here is a screen capture of that information.
I wonder how much of the revenue was generated by late fees and administrative fees versus timely paying Toll Tag and non-Toll Tag customers.
If the NTTA wants to offer true financial accountability in order to make their case of being robbed by non-paying users of the toll roads, they should include in their annual report a full breakdown of transactional types (e.g. Toll Tag, non-Toll Tag, paying, non-paying, and the tolls, fees and late payments recouped by those transactions. This is the only way to truly make their case in a convincing way.
As a side note, there were several noteworthy quotes from the 2009 NTTA Annual Summary Report that I found quite interesting. Here is the first quote.
After six months of all-ETC operation in 2009, traffic was meeting revised projections. Revenue continued to increase as more ZipCash invoices were sent and paid for travel on the PGBT. In fact, revenues exceeded projections.
Lets look at the those actuals. First, here are the number of transactions for 2009.
The number of transactions per month has some minor fluctuation but largely similar. Roughly 35 million transactions per month. Now lets look at the revenues for 2009.
On to the next savory quote. This one focuses on their great customer support. Before you read this quote note that when I called in, I waited over 30 minutes before anyone picked up the phone.
In 2009, the Roadway Customer Service team handled 17,985 incidents, representing an average of 346 per week, with an average response time of less than 12 minutes.I'm not sure if the NTTA is aware of this or not but an average response time (e.g. the amount of time you wait on hold for someone to answer the phone) of nearly 12 minutes is INSANELY too long to promote a happy customer. If the NTTA only works a 40 hour week, that means that they took less than 9 calls per hour. The NTTA either has really long calls per agent or have a very lax requirement to pick up the phone in a timely manner.
Note also from the same report that in 2009 the NTTA had to reorganize 170 employees and let 19 go. Not sure if the 19 were from customer service or not but that might have contributed to the long hold times.
Here is the next quote. Not so savory.
Fine-tuning our ZipCash invoices As with any ambitious new program, our ZipCash launch required some fine-tuning. Some ZipCash customers, having never received an invoice from the NTTA before, were initially confused about the process for billing and payment. We gave our invoices and notices a user-friendly makeover to help customers distinguish each step in the payment and collections process. To minimize confusion about paying ZipCash tolls, each phase of the new three-step invoice process—ZipCash, ZipCash Late Notice and Violation Invoice— has a distinct look. We hope to encourage motorists to pay for the use of the toll road before any late or administrative fees are applied to the transactions. We want the customers’ payment process to flow as smoothly as their driving experience.Glad they made the invoices pretty and all but if they don't send them, it doesn't really matter how pretty they are. But there is a bonus for NTTA with this strategy.... a lot more late fees and administrative fees to collect.
Here was a quote that would be interesting to know the rest of the story.
The story behind administrative fees It is important to the NTTA that we conduct all of our business in ways that are fair, clear and easily understood. One way we do that is by working to see that the 92 percent of motorists who pay their tolls are not subsidizing nonpaying motorists’ trips on toll roads.
The NTTA takes a hard-line stance on habitual violators. Our collection process includes an administrative fee, authorized by statute, to help pay for the cost of collection. This is not a stream of additional income but rather a way of recouping some of the costs associated with enforcement.
However, the NTTA realizes that mistakes happen, confusion occurs or invoices are overlooked. For that reason, we waive 67 percent of administrative fees incurred if any violator takes care of the balance before the outstanding invoice is transferred to a collection agency. We want to do all we can to help customers avoid any additional fees.
With respect to the 92% rule, that sounds like the NTTA is saying that 12% is the number of nonpaying motorists. I wonder if the 67% of waived fees were for the customers like me that called in and demanded that the erroneous fees be dropped... and the NTTA customer service representatives begrudgingly agreed.
The next humorous thing I found in the report is that the NTTA setup a Facebook (FB) page to become more social. So, I went to FB and searched on NTTA. Unfortunately I didn't find the official NTTA page. However, what did show up was quite interesting... NTTA Fines Suck! FB page. This was a vibrant community of 90 NTTA anti-friends that were all to vocal of their disapproval of abusive NTTA fines. I had to resort to Google to find the official NTTA FB page.
I can't wait to see the 2010 NTTA Annual Summary Report. I wonder if the overall revenue will nearly double like it did in the months of September and November of 2009.
I hope you enjoyed this exploration into the the realm of the NTTA and found my commentary interesting. If I have misrepresented anything or got some fact wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. When correcting though, please site all references for everyone's benefit.
That is it for tonight. Have a great day!