AUSTIN (KXAN) – On Sept. 1, House Bill 2170 took effect with the intent to address the most commonly reported complaint KXAN highlighted in its “TxTag Troubles” investigative project: billing issues.

KXAN revealed many of those complaints reported errors in processing toll charges among customers with auto-pay accounts, resulting in surprise bills and late fees.

“There is a lack of transparency and adequate communication between some toll entities and
customers. Customers are not always adequately notified that there is a problem processing their payment,” according to the bill’s statement of intent.

Since the launch of “TxTag Troubles” in May, KXAN has continued to receive complaints from toll customers alleging the problem remains. Viewers with auto-pay accounts said they received late toll bills in the mail after more than a month had gone by.

“This is quite unfair and this company needs to be held accountable for their errors and the cost and time impact it has on their customers,” one viewer told KXAN.

House Bill 2170, authored by Rep. Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen — and sponsored by Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston — aims to improve Texas’ tollway billing and collections practices by requiring tolling entities to immediately notify customers if there is a problem processing toll charges through the electronic payment method associated with their accounts.

The new state law further states toll authorities must provide an invoice of unpaid tolls sent by either first-class mail, email or text message if the customer has elected to receive electronic communications. The invoice must clearly indicate the document is a bill and the recipient is expected to pay it.

Alvarado said she hopes this bill will bring accountability for toll systems and awareness for customers.

However, neither HB 2170 nor Texas Transportation Code 372, which was amended by HB 2170, specifically outline how this law will be enforced or monitored to ensure that toll entities are abiding by the requirements set forth in the new law.

Rep. Guerra’s office confirmed that the bill does not prescribe what happens if toll entities do not follow the law and told KXAN that agencies typically adopt their own set of rules when enacting new laws.

KXAN reached out to TxDOT as well as CTRMA and asked what measures are being taken to ensure the toll authorities are complying with the new requirements set by HB 2170, how it plans to monitor its compliance moving forward, and whether the agencies foresee any challenges related to the new law.

Additionally, KXAN also reached out to Senator Robert Nichols, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and asked if the transportation committee had oversight or enforcement authority to ensure entities were complying with laws that fall in their jurisdiction.

KXAN will update this story as soon as a response is provided.

Of the eight bills KXAN identified related to Texas’ toll authorities that addressed issues highlighted in our “TxTag Troubles” investigative project, HB 2170 is the only bill lawmakers passed and Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law.

This story is part of KXAN’s “TxTag Troubles” investigative project launched May 7, 2023. Following related reports in recent years, our team rededicated its resources to this major consumer issue, after hundreds of viewers complained to us about resurfaced billing and customer service problems with the state’s tollway operator and its contracted vendors. During our reporting, the Texas Department of Transportation began reaching out to viewers who had contacted KXAN to resolve their issues, and state lawmakers renewed their approach to fixing future TxTag problems.