Audit: RiverLink may lose $720k in annual toll revenue from lice - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Audit: RiverLink may lose $720k in annual toll revenue from license plate, camera errors

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The toll gantry on Lincoln Bridge. The toll gantry on Lincoln Bridge.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The RiverLink toll system is failing to properly classify hundreds of license plates each day, potentially resulting in lost revenues of nearly $680,000 per year, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet found in an internal report.

And the annual amount of uncollected tolls on the Ohio River bridges may be closer to $720,000 because of misaligned cameras on the Interstate 65 Lincoln and Kennedy spans between Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind.

The October 26 audit, obtained by WDRB News through a public records request, provides an early accounting of how much money Kentucky and Indiana risk losing due to flaws in the cashless bridge toll network that began late last year.

At issue is how RiverLink’s operators -- Austria-based Kapsch TrafficCom and Municipal Services Bureau of Austin, Texas -- determine if they can bill drivers without transponders. In those cases, cameras take pictures of license plates; invoices are then mailed to the address tied to the plate.

Most of the work reviewing images of license plates occurs in Austin, where MSB also operates its main customer service center. Two people evaluate photos taken from cameras on the bridges, along with a supervisor if there is conflicting information, according to the Kentucky report.

The cabinet’s division of audit services reviewed a sample of license plates that was deemed unreadable during a four-hour period in August, finding instead that 10 percent of the plates were legible.

For a full year, Kentucky officials estimate that would amount to about 109,500 transactions and $657,000 in unpaid tolls that aren’t pursued.

Other images of Indiana license plates were incorrectly listed as having “no plate,” an error that could cost an additional $21,900 per year.

And three cameras on the I-65 bridges were found to be misaligned, potentially resulting in $43,800 a year in lost revenue.

“These independent reviews of our operational processes and procedures are included in many of our toll projects,” Kapsch spokesman Brian McNiff said in a statement. “We are reviewing the recent audit and working directly with the Joint Board to develop a plan to address the findings.”

That four-person board, made up of top Kentucky and Indiana transportation and finance officials, has the ultimate oversight over the RiverLink system. It has yet to meet since tolls began late last year.

But crews conducted annual maintenance on the Kennedy’s tolling equipment earlier this month, including verifying the alignment of cameras, said RiverLink spokeswoman Mindy Peterson. Similar work is planned for the other toll crossings, the Lincoln and Lewis and Clark bridges.

Transportation Cabinet spokesman Naitore Djigbenou said the audit is "part of the standard review of new tolling systems. We’re exercising our due diligence through our toll system advisor and KYTC internal audits to ensure the system is working as efficiently as possible" In a statement, she said the number of missed license plates "falls within our projected allowances."

RiverLink’s first year has been marked by customer service glitches -- long wait times for people with billing complaints, drivers who received incorrect toll charges and invoices that wrongly assessed late fees.

Even so, the toll network is on track to meet its collection estimates, Kentucky officials have said.

The audit’s findings show some of the growing pains of RiverLink, said Kentucky state Sen. Ernie Harris, a Prospect Republican who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.

“This is another little issue that’s come up,” he said. “Let’s fix it and continue to monitor the toll collection process to make sure we’re getting the money that we’re due to get.”

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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