LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – RiverLink is expanding an effort to entice drivers to use transponders by lowering unpaid tolls and eliminating late fees on bills sent by mail.

To get those savings, drivers must sign up for a RiverLink account tied to a transponder and open with a balance of at least $20.

In the past, they could make the switch only by talking with a customer service representative on the phone. But since late February, RiverLink spokeswoman Mindy Peterson said, people have been able to convert their accounts at riverlink.com.

The amnesty program could result in “substantial savings” for drivers, she said.

Consider this example:  A driver who makes one round-trip crossing on an Ohio River toll bridge and has failed to pay that bill and first two late fees sent by mail would owe $38.

By switching to a pre-paid account that uses a transponder, the initial $8 toll charge would be lowered to the transponder rate of $4, and $30 in late fees would be waived.

In all, including the minimum account balance, the $38 toll bill would be reduced to a total cost of $24.

“This is just a chance to really clean the slate, take care of things,” Peterson said. “You’re saving money now and you’re saving money later.”

She said about 1,000 people have gone online and signed up for RiverLink transponder accounts, resulting in average savings of $30 per person in adjusted tolls and dismissed fees.

“It is important for people to understand: This is a one-time-only offer for people opening accounts,” Peterson said. “You can’t keep opening and closing them.”

The offers also are available to drivers who have yet to get a fourth notice for unpaid tolls. At that point, the amount owed could be sent to a collections agency.

Kentucky and Indiana share the toll revenue collected by RiverLink operator Kapsch TrafficCom. Peterson acknowledged that waiving some fees and reducing tolls owed may result in less revenue for the states.

“The focus is always on getting the tolls that are owed,” she said. “We’re not in the business of collecting fees or seeing how much money we can collect from folks or how high those invoices can be.”

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Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.