MDX announces toll cash back dividend refund program

At yesterday’s MDX board meeting the board unanimously approved a new refund program that amends the recently launched MDX Advantage frequent user program.

Users would need to sign up between July 13 and August 30, have a Sun Pass account in good standing and spend a minimum of $100.00 per year on MDX tolls.

Read the full press release here.

We commend the MDX board and in particular, Maritza Gutierrez the outgoing chair, for listening to the public and coming up with creative solution to “roll back” toll rates for users.

Watch video presentation by MDX’s head of finance, Marie Schafer, explain in detail how the new cash back dividend refund program works.

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It’s Time SunPass Gives Users The Information They Deserve.

The SunPass State

 

For over three years Roll Back Tolls has lead the charge in asking Sun Pass, the electronic road toll collection agency, to update it’s system to modern standards.   As a high tech  company, they should not have any barriers to providing better transparency and full cost disclosure to users.

Sun Pass users should easily know exactly how much they are actually spending in tolls on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.

Stop Dumbing It Down

Origianl Sun Pass TransponderRemember the original Sun Pass transponder that beeped every time you paid a toll and showed the amount of the toll on a LED screen?   You could even see your current balance right from the transponder.  Call me old school, but I like knowing how much I’m paying for something.  The modern Sun Pass transponders don’t beep and do not give any information like the original did and this is where the problem exist.  Today, we know exactly how much we are paying for everything.  Go to Publix and by a gallon of milk, bam, there’s the price.  Receive your property tax statement, you get a line by line detailed explanation.   But travel on most toll roads in Florida like the Turnpike and you are left guessing how much you just paid.   Next time you take the Turnpike to Disney in Orlando  or down to Homestead see if you can easily find out how much you just paid in tolls.   Heres a hint, you’ll need a calculator and access to your Sun Pass account.

Neither the Sun Pass App or the on-line account give you a running total of how much you spent in tolls.  It does give you the individual cost of each toll but no total.  You literally have to add it up yourself if you want to get a total.  Why?  Is Sun Pass afraid that people may alter their driving habits if they actually knew how much they are paying?  Users have a right to know in an easy modern manor how much they are paying.

Our suggestions for  a better user experience.

Update the Sun Pass app and on-line account system to give users the option of receiving an e-mail summary of usage.  This could be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  The email should give the total paid in tolls for the selected time period.  This could also be sent to users via text message when users are not driving.  Todays mobile devices can detect when you are stationary and not moving at a high rate of speed.

New users should be given the choice to opt-into receiving this information.

When these updates are implemented, hopefully sooner than later, all Sun Pass users should be notified of these new options and should be allowed to opt-in for this information.

If Sun Pass tolling is going to be the method of choice for paying for transportation infrastructure in Florida then we need to know how much we are actually paying.

 

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SIGN PETITION TO GIVE VOTER APPROVAL FOR NEW TOLLS AND TOLL HIKE IN FLORIDA.


Lets put an end to “Tollation”, tolling without representation. #tollation

Sign the petition that would require all tolling agencies in Florida to seek voter approval for new tolls and future toll increases.  This petition initiative seeks to get the issue on the November 2016 ballot in Florida.

Just 5 easy steps:

1.  Download the petition by clicking on this link.

2. Print out the petition

3. Fill out the petition.  Please be sure to include your name, address, voter registration number or date of birth, signature and the date your signed the petition.

4. Mail the completed petition to:    PO Box 3051,   Miami, FL  33283

5.  Email your friends and family and encourage them to sign the petition.

Please post on your Facebook and Twitter pages and ask your friends and followers that are Florida registered voters to sign the petition.

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March Is Toll Payer Awareness Month

March is Toll Payer Awareness Month

We are asking that all toll payers and Sun Pass users total up their toll bills (individual and house hold) for the last 90 days and send a copy to our elected officials.  You can log in on line at www.sunpass.com  or call 1-888-865-5352 and speak with customer service for the information.  If you no longer can afford to drive on a toll road in town, tell your elected representative how this has impacted your daily commute and quality of life.   Below is an email list.

Governor Rick Scott – rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com
Florida House Speaker, Steve Crisafulli, steve.crisafulli@myfloridahouse.gov
State Rep. Jeannette Nuñez, jeannette.nunez@myfloridahouse.gov
State Senator, Anitere Flores – flores.anitere.web@flsenate.gov
Miami-Dade Mayor, Carlos Gimenez – mayor@miamidade.gov
County Commission Chair, Jean Monestime, district2@miamidade.gov

In and effort to bring more awareness and education about the money you pay, the tolling agencies that collect tolls and how these agencies use your toll dollars, we bring you this new initiative. Things you will learn:

• How to log into your Sun Pass account and total up how much you are actually paying.

• Download the Sun Pass app to your smart phone.

• Learn if any portion of your tolls may be deducted from your taxes.

• How to petition Sun Pass to update their system to send you e-mail and or text message notifications for toll usage/cost summary.

It is time to wake up our elected officials to the reality that MDX and their non-elected board is out of touch with the economic hardships of daily commuters that need the roads simply to get to work.  And to make them aware of the secondary impact “toll avoidance” is having on our county roads and communities from drivers that can no longer afford to take MDX roads.

Additionally, please sign our on-line petition demanding that MDX “Roll Back Toll” rates for drivers just as they did for the truckers.  Don’t believe MDX when they say it can’t be done, because they already did it!  Watch the video.

We have to keep the pressure on high and make this one of the top issues in next November’s elections for local and state positions.

If you know someone who would be interested in receiving this information please ask them to sign up on our e-mail list on http://rollbacktolls.com/join-our-email-list/

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MDX board “Rolls Back Tolls” for truckers.

In a very surprising move the board of directors of MDX (Miami-Dade Expressway Authority) approved a measure to effectively “roll back tolls” for truckers on all MDX toll roads in Miami.   Below is a video of MDX’s director, Javier Rodriguez explaining the new “rolled back” toll rate for truckers.  This new lower toll is in effect for truckers on all MDX toll roads.  Truckers must have a valid Sun Pass transponder and account to qualify for these reduced rates.

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Statement from MDX on new “roll back” of toll rates for the trucking industry in Miami-Dade.

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Sign Petition to Roll Back MDX Toll Hike

Its time to stand up and say what must be said.  The toll payers and daily commuters should not be expected to pay 54% higher toll for worsening traffic conditions on the Dolphin 836 and Airport 112 expressways.  MDX has said that they could raise enough money for improvements with the previous per mile rate of .11 cents while implementing their new ORT (Open Road Tolling) system to capture tolls from all users of the system.

Come and make a public comment at MDX board meeting.

MDX board meeting Dec. 9th, 2014

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Watch Video Below Where MDX Director Acknowledges That Improvements Could Have Been Done Without Raising The Toll Rates on the 836. 

Video of Jim Defede Show with MDX

 

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Tollmageddon in Miami

Tollmageddon is HERE!  #tollmageddon

Take action! Call your elected official now!

call list against MDX toll hike
Tollmageddon on SR 836 in Miami-Dade

Watch CBS4’s Jim Defede confront MDX director on toll hikes. (fast forward to 5 min mark for interview)

Just In Time For Christmas  – Less Money For Shopping, More Money For Big Government Tolling.

New, much higher and more frequent tolls are set to go live November 15 on the Dolphin SR 836 and Airport SR 112 expressways.  Most if not all on and exit ramps will be tolled and new main line tolling points will charge commuters.  A total of seventeen (17!) new tolling points on the Dolphin expressway will allow MDX Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to capture revenue from every single user no matter how short your trip is.

New Toll Rate Charts

How much will the new tolls cost you?  Use the charts below to find out.

new SR 836 toll rates

 

112 new tolls

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As an example, someone from the Doral or Fountainbluea area that uses the 87th Avenue ramp to work in downtown Miami today pays $1.00 for the round trip.  That same movement will cost a whopping $3.40 starting November 15.  That’s an over 300% increase folks!  That would amount to $68.00 a month just to use the Dolphin Expressway.

Meet the non-elected MDX board members that voted to increase tolls on March 19, 2013.

MDX directors that voted for 54% toll hike

Non-elected MDX directors that voted for 54% toll hike and ignored all elected Mayors, Commissioners, State Representatives and a State Senator.

* It’s worth noting that Board member Robert Holland (appointed to MDX by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners) phoned in the deciding vote that fateful day on March 19, 2013.   And also note that Mr. Holland did not file his financial disclosure reports,  as required by state statutes, for six years.  Then he claims his former accountant moved to the Turks and Caicos Islands and has his financial records.  Did our board of county commissioners not vet this individual before re-appointing him to MDX?!   The public gives a big vote of no confidence to our commissioners on this one.  Everyone should demand that he be removed from the MDX board immediately.

Watch this video of the actual vote taken March 19, 2013.  At the 35 second mark, note that the vote is tied at 6 against the hike and 6 in favor of the hike.  Then, the secretary ask if Mr. Holland is still on the line, then he states over the phone that he says “yes” in favor of the toll increase.  So the decisive vote was “phoned in”?  How was that even legal and binding?

 This Is Tollation – Out of control tolling without representation

Should we continue to allow non-elected board members to have the power to levy toll hikes without consequences?  Most people are shocked to learn that this is the case with Miami-Dade Expressway Authority’s board of directors.

And when we went to individual commissioners to speak about MDX, the overwhelming response was that they could do nothing.  How could they say such a thing when they as a collective board have the responsibility and power to appoint MDX board members?  And sadly, the majority of county appointees voted in favor the the 54% toll hike March 19, 2013 and again negated a second vote the following June on a small concession of lowering the the main line tolls from .70 cents to .65 cents.

Here is a video of our Mayor, Carlos Gimenez speaking at the Kendall Federation of Homeowners, where he promises Carlos Garcia of Roll Back Tolls that he would organized a meeting with MDX, our group and he and his staff to discuss the tolls.  After numerous calls and emails to the mayors office, no reply at all.

Call Your County Commissioner.

Here is a contact info list for our county commissioners.  Click link to populate list.


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Billions on toll roads, little public input


Florida: State of Tollation state of tollation

“Welcome to Florida” says the sign on the south bound lanes of I-95 as you enter the state from Georgia.  It should also remind drivers to bring their wallets, toll money and Sun Pass.   More toll roads are being built here than any other state in the country.  And our local and state officials are not asking for our input.  Do they know something we don’t know?

The word we coined for this very situation is “tollation”;  tolling with our representation.  Just like our founding fathers felt that they we being taxed without representation so goes the Florida driver.  We should not allow this and let our local and state elected officials look the other way.

Even though Floridians have taken these tolling authorities and placed them outside of state or local government, remember, they are still governmental agencies. Therefore, we as tax and toll payers, must guard against the mentality of Big Government Tolling where no debt is too large or toll hike too high. These authorities will grow in size, with their bloated budgets, and state and local governments must regulate and monitor them in meaningful ways.


Gas Tax + Tolls = Double Dipping

As more new and existing roads become toll roads our availability of non-toll road alternatives are slowly vanishing.  We’ve heard it before from tolling agencies like MDX, Miami-Dade Exressway Authority,  “If you don’t like paying tolls then take the free roads”.  The only problem with that is that those “free” roads were not free at all.   We pay gas taxes, license tag fees, auto sales taxes, etc. that paid for those “free” non-toll roads.  So as a higher percentage of roads in our state become tolled, we must realize that we are paying double for access.  Does anyone see a pattern here?

So is the state or federal government going to stop charging us gas tax every time we fill up at the pump? I think you know the answer to that one.  So if more of the roads in Miami-Dade and across the state are becoming tolled, where is our choice?  It’s either pony up and pay the toll trolls or opt for the slower surface streets and roads.

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What Ever The Market Will Bear = Desperation Pricing

Should our county and state government be applying supply and demand business principles to our transportation system?  We just saw the I-95 Express Lanes in Miami Dade go from a maximum, peak rate of $7.00 to a whopping $10.50!!  Folks, forget about Lexus Lanes, we’re entering the “Lamborghini Lanes” pricing phase.  All I want to know is what is it going to cost to take the full length of the Express Lanes when the Broward portion is finished. $20, $30 to go 12 miles?  I know it sounds crazy, but that’s what we’re looking at.  Who can afford this madness?  Not me.

Lexus Lanes Gone Wild

Here in Miami-Dade we have the I-95 Express Lanes.  Many people have asked how did FDOT get to put toll lanes on a federal interstate highway and get a way with it?  After all, we paid for this highway with out gas tax dollars.  Why have two lanes been taken away from us and only made available to those willing or desperate enough to pay $2, $5 or even $10.50 to go six lousy miles?  The FDOT people and Lexus Lanes supporters always point to a mythical study that says that the non-tolled lanes move faster as a result.  We’d like to see this study and know who paid for it.

#LexusLaneFAIL HowHighCanItGo I95 real small

This picture was sent to us by a frustrated driver back a couple of years ago while on his way to the U2 concert at the Dolphins stadium.  It shows him stuck in bumper to bumper traffic while waiting to get into the express lane, while the non-toll side of the highway is moving faster.   Most people, including me, instinctively feel that if something is priced higher that somehow it will be better, faster, higher quality, etc.  Not in this case.  The high price set by FDOT is actually suppose to act as a deterrent to using the lane.  Most people that we’ve spoken to don’t instinctively get this and FDOT has done a terrible job in not explaining this.  In fact many drivers have actually gone to Help Me Howard to demand a refund from FDOT.   What a mess!

A very simple way to alleviate this pricing confusion would be to add an “estimated travel time” display under the price so that drivers could make a better judgement of whether to use it or not.  Someone please stop me if I am making too much sense.   Most people don’t understand that the higher price is the stick and not the carrot.

Tollmagedon Is Coming to Miami-Dade!

Tollmageddon on SR 836 in Miami-Dade

Just in time for Christmas MDX, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority is going to leave a little present under everyone’s Christmas tree.  The graphic above shows 17 new tolling points along the east and west bound lanes and on and exit ramps of the SR 836 Dolphin Expressway set to go live sometime in December.  Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah Miami from the out of touch, non-elected MDX board of directors!

We suggest everyone call their county commissioner to let them know just how you feel about the new higher tolls coming to the SR 836 and SR 112 expressways.  After all, they are our representatives in our community.  Most of the commission and the Mayor, Carlos Gimenez have been noticeably absent from this conversation.  This is tollaion – tolling without representation.  Plain and simple.  It’s time we demand representation from our elected officials.

Carlos Gimenez for Miami-Dade County MayorIf fact our mayor, Mr. Gimenez has publicly stated that he would set up a meeting with MDX’s executive director, Javier Rodriguez, Roll Back Tolls and  himself to discuss the situation.  Since April, we have not heard back from the Mayor’s office, even after numerous phone calls to follow up.  This is un-acceptable!  Watch the video of Mayor Carlos Gimenez saying that he will schedule the MDX meeting.

We predict that there will be a mass exodus off the Dolphin SR 836 and onto surface streets and avenues as people realize that they are un-able or un-willing to pay the new higher MDX tolls.   This will create traffic congestion the likes of which we have never seen in Miami-Dade.  Particularly on NW 36th Street,  NW 7th Street, Flagler, 8th Street, Coral Way and US 1 among many others.  Is the county ready to handle the added burden, stress and wear on tear on these roads?  It’s a valid question.

Toll Lanes Are Hot In Florida.

The Miami Herald recently ran a story on how the use of tolled roads are growing throughout the state.

Read the article here.

Transit Not Tolls

Adding more toll lanes and widening existing highways is a means to an end.  Perhaps, roads can be built for lower cost than light or heavy rail, but what is the real long term cost of not expanding our mass transit system today?

I would say adding more toll roads is short term gain for long term pain.  We’ll never reach our true potential as a vibrant and sustainable economic community if we keep being lead down a long and winding toll road.

I invite you to leave a comment below, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  Please become part of the conversation.

Carlos Garcia,

Co-chair, RollBackTolls.com

A non-paid volunteer local activist

Posted in tollation, tolls | 1 Comment

Wall Street Journal Article about Growing Anti-Toll Sentiment in Texas.

Re-print from Wall Street Journal

Updated Oct. 20, 2014 2:25 p.m. ET

Driven Higher Chart of toll road mileage

Miles of tolled roads are increasing in the U.S.

DALLAS—Toll roads are experiencing a growth spurt around the U.S. as states strapped for cash look to relieve traffic congestion without raising taxes.

But a political backlash is rising in Texas, one of the states that most aggressively encouraged toll-road construction, as residents realize that many major urban freeways are increasingly no longer free.

Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the fourth-largest metropolitan region in the U.S., with more than 6.5 million people, public and private entities have constructed one of the most extensive toll-road networks in North America—and numerous additional toll roads are on the horizon.

Transportation officials are considering converting part of U.S. Highway 75, a major north-south artery, to toll lanes. And Texas Turnpike Corp., a private company that possesses eminent-domain powers under a since-revised law, is proposing to build a highway northeast of Dallas that would be one of the only fully privately built, owned and operated toll roads in the country.

“It’s almost impossible to get around without paying a toll now,” said Bobby Tillman, a 63-year-old web developer from Sachse, Texas, who spoke against the road at a public hearing last month that filled a 1,500-seat high-school auditorium. “We pay taxes for roads and bridges, and if that’s not enough, if you can’t afford it, don’t build it.”

The toll boom is taking place in part because a primary source of highway-construction funding in the U.S., a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline, hasn’t changed since 1993. Many states also haven’t raised state gasoline taxes for decades, including Texas, which hasn’t increased its 20-cents- per-gallon tax since 1991.

While still a fraction of freeways, toll roads make up a growing percentage of newly built and upgraded roads in certain regions of the country. More than 5,400 miles of U.S. roads now require tolls, up 15% from a decade earlier, according to a 2013 report by the Federal Highway Administration. The Obama administration in April proposed allowing states to collect tolls on interstate highways, most of which are currently free. But the idea has run into bipartisan opposition in Congress.

Texas has more than 500 miles of toll roads, the majority of which were constructed in the past 10 years, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. An additional two dozen toll-road projects are in the planning or construction stages, which could add more than 300 additional tolled miles in the state, according to the agency.

Other states, such as Florida, have likewise facilitated toll-road building in recent years. “The number of toll roads in Florida has increased to meet the demands of a growing population,” said a spokeswoman with Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, a unit of the state’s department of transportation.

Miami resident Carlos Garcia, the co-founder of RollBackTolls.com, said in certain parts of the state, particularly Miami and Orlando, it increasingly feels like there are few free alternatives to toll roads.

“Many people in Florida believe we face double taxation: first the gas tax and, second, tolls,” he said.

In Texas, lawmakers have embraced public-private partnerships in which a private party helps finance the construction of new tolled highways or the tolling of existing highways in exchange for receiving a share of future revenue.

“What makes more sense, raising gas taxes to build roads or giving drivers the option to pay service fees?” said Robert Nichols, the Republican chairman of the Texas Senate’s transportation committee.

Even with toll roads, Texas, the nation’s second-largest state, with more than 26 million people, faces a transportation-funding gap of $5 billion a year as it seeks to limit congestion to 2010 levels, according to David Ellis, a research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. A November ballot measure, which polling suggests is likely to pass, would let the state shift more than $1 billion a year from its rainy-day fund to its highway fund, but road experts say it wouldn’t entirely resolve the problem.

“There is not a road fairy, and you have to find some way to build these roads,” Mr. Ellis said in an interview.

However, Texas toll roads face mounting opposition, including within the state’s Republican Party, which amended its platform this year to add language hostile to toll roads. “A large segment of our party believes in having free access to transportation,” said Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.

Texas lawmakers are reacting to criticism in areas such as Collin County, north of Dallas. There, the proposal to convert lanes on U.S. Highway 75 to tolls sparked a firestorm from residents who noted that Plano, Texas, would be nearly surrounded by toll roads.

“I like to say we are a gated community,” said Republican state Rep. Jeff Leach, adding that toll roads are “way up there” among issues his conservative constituents are worked up about.

Still, while toll-road proponents acknowledge changing political realities, they predict Texas and other states will continue adding toll lanes.

“The truth is that most people are using and liking these toll roads,” said John Crew, the majority owner of Texas Turnpike Corp., the entity looking to build the private road near Dallas. “If we don’t build these things, it’s not going to be pretty in a few decades.”

Write to Miguel Bustillo at miguel.bustillo@wsj.com and Nathan Koppel at nathan.koppel@wsj.com

Nathan Koppel

Wall Street Journal

nathan.koppel@wsj.com

Twitter: @nathankoppel

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Everglades Expressway Meeting

Here comes MDX again.  Now floating their idea of extending the 836 west to Krome Avenue and south to SW 136th Street.  Right against the Miami-Dade urban development boundary (UDB).

836 expantion meeting notice Eng Sept 4 836 expantion meeting notice Spanish

At this meeting the public can expect to find a lot of pictures, diagrams and happy people talking about how great this will be!   No opportunity for public comment, except a survey card, that gets filed away.  We’ve been to enough of these “white wash” MDX meetings to know what it’s really about.  The absolute minimum of PR is all MDX has to do so they can say they had the meetings.

map of 836 Everglades ExpresswayThis diagram shows four route alternatives that the MDX study is considering.  The red one would go south along Krome Avenue to an area around SW 136th Street.

MDX Project Fact Sheet

Some in Kendall have expressed support for the idea of this extension.  In particular Commissioner Juan Zapata spoke favorably about the plan at a Greater Kendall Business Association meeting in 2013.   But what Commissioner Zapata and many West Kendall Residents don’t realize is that the round trip toll from from this extension to the airport or downtown could approach anywhere from $5.00 to $10.00 by the time its done and the new toll hikes go into effect at the end of this year on the 836 Dolphin Expressway and 112 Airport Expressway.

 

Transit Miami has a great post with plenty of nice charts and stats about the MDX southwest SR 836 extension.

MDX Your Toll Dollars at Work Here

 

How long will we continue to allow big corporations and special interest to decimate the Everglades?  Enough is enough!

Hope to see you on Thursday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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