Motorists claim they are being ripped off by cashless tolls

NEW YORK — When cashless tolls went into effect last year, it proved to be quite convenient for motorists.

There was no more idling on those long lines to get through the toll booth.

But now there's a price to pay for that convenience and it has led to this lawsuit against the MTA which operates the cashless tolls on its bridges and tunnels.

The class action suit claims the operators of the cashless tolls are lining their own pockets at the expense of drivers, primarily by collecting exorbitant fees and penalties on delinquent payments.

Just ask Elisa Adams of Queens who drives her son to school in the Bronx each day and pays $8.50 in tolls. Several weeks ago she began getting delinquency notices for the total $34 she owed. To her shock, the balance had grown to $434, with a $100 fee attached to each of the $8.50 tolls that she said had already been paid.

Elisa attempted to challenge the fees in repeated phone calls, but said she got no response, and was advised to send a letter. That too proved futile. All the while her balance kept climbing. It went up to $1,700 and during our visit she called up her balance on the computer and it had grown to $2,855, listed in a column next to one that showed she had paid her original debt for each of the $8.50 tolls.

"It all changed after they closed the toll booths and went to the cashless system," she said, declaring, "It's a scam."

Frustrated, the Queens mother wants to join the class action lawsuit, noting, "I have no one to write to, no one to talk to. I'm out of luck."

We asked the MTA for reaction to the lawsuit.

"We can't comment on pending lawsuits,"was the response. But a spokesman was quick to add, "Cashless tolling is providing huge benefits to our customers."