Maryland Lawmakers Lose E-ZPass Privileges

MTA asked to terminate program

By Jim Iovino
|  Thursday, Oct 1, 2009  |  Updated 8:28 PM EDT
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Avoiding Maryland Tolls Still E-Z for Some

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Avoiding Maryland Tolls Still E-Z for Some

Some Maryland lawmakers and thousands of state workers were getting to skip the tolls that are supposed to generate revenue for the state. But the MTA has decided to end its free E-Z Pass program for lawmakers, while other government workers will still get a free ride.
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While E-ZPass customers in Maryland were recently hit with a monthly fee and start-up charge to use the service, the state's lawmakers were able to use theirs free of charge.

Until now.

The Maryland Transportation Authority is being asked to terminate the legislative branch's free E-ZPass program.

House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller asked officials to terminate the program that allowed scores of lawmakers to avoid paying for the electronic toll-collection service. Lawmakers would still be eligible to seek reimbursement for tolls.

"I don't want myself or any member of the General Assembly to have any benefit that the public doesn't have," Busch told the Baltimore Sun. Busch and Miller said they don't have the free pass.

The authority imposed a $1.50-a-month fee on regular E-ZPass customers and began charging $21 for the transponders starting in July.

About 15,000 government employees and officials in the state have the free accounts. Meanwhile, the state faces a budget gap of nearly $2 billion next year.

Maryland Politics Watch has been all over this story, even filing a FOIA request to get a list of those who took advantage of the free service. That FOIA request has yet to be answered.

"... the Hypocrites of the Week award belongs to the Maryland Senate Republican Caucus, who have made great hay over the E-ZPass fee uprising by accusing the Governor of breaking his promise not to “nickel and dime” Marylanders. How many Senate Republicans were carrying free E-ZPasses at the time of that attack?"

It is unclear how much the move would to eliminate the free program will save, but an authority spokeswoman said the 137 nonrevenue transponders issued to state senators and delegates in fiscal year 2008 recorded 2,300 transactions.

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