The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), in its latest crackdown, seized 44 vehicles for persistent toll evasion, amounting to nearly $1 million in unpaid fees.
The MTA operation lasted four days and was focused on the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, which led to the seizure of various vehicles, including luxury cars and even a garbage truck.
MTA chair Janno Lieber said on Friday, December 15th, “These scofflaws accounted for nearly $1 million of unpaid tolls and violation fees.”
Lieber explained, “This is about fundamental fairness. It’s not right when drivers, some rolling around in Mercedes and Porsches, come onto our bridges and through tunnels and skip out on paying thousands and thousands of dollars in tolls.”
The seized vehicles were found using either fraudulent out-of-state plates, which are untraceable by New York’s cashless tolling system, or legitimate plates obscured by plastic covers to avoid detection by toll cameras.
The 44 individuals involved collectively owe the MTA $922,500, a fraction of the estimated $46 million lost to toll evasion in 2022.
Some offenders were also found to be uninsured or driving with suspended licenses.
Richard Hildebrand, vice president and chief of operations for MTA Bridges and Tunnels, noted, “Our message today is simple. If you cover your license plate, even with a clear case, or use fraudulent plates…you will pay the price. If you’re a repeat offender, your car is going to be seized, and you could get arrested if you have forged plates.”
As a result of the crackdown, the vehicles have been impounded, and their registrations are suspended until the dues are cleared.
This enforcement action is part of a larger effort by the MTA, NYPD, and New York State Police, who have intercepted 2,705 vehicles for toll evasion in the current year, marking a 50% increase from 2022.
These efforts are crucial for the MTA as it faces a substantial budget shortfall and is considering implementing a new congestion pricing scheme to address the financial gap.