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The Conmontrealth of Massachusetts AUDITOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH STATE HOUSE, osron, MASSACHUSETTS ats ‘A. JOSEPH Denucc fae 2009-0509-3A4 August 5, 2009 ‘The Honorable Richard R. Tis ‘The Honorable Broce E, Tarr ‘The Honorable Michael R. Knap ‘The Honorable Rober L. Hedland ‘The Honorable Scott. Brown Massachusets State Senate State House, Boston Massachusets 02133, Dear Senators: In response to your request, the Office ofthe Sate Auditor has conducted limited scope aut ofthe [Massachusetts Tumpike Authorty’s (MTA) Fast Lane Program to determine (1) the extent of ‘overcharges relating to faulty axle readings of vehicles with transponders, (2) the cause ofthe faulty readings, and (3) what actions MTA has taken to remedy the problem. Our aut, which covered the period July 1,2007 to June 22,2009, was conducted in accordance with applicable generally accepted government auditing standards for performance audits and included such test of the system as we deemed necessary including interviews with MTA management and consultant and the examination of other appropriate evidence to support our conclusions. In addition, the objectives of our audit were ‘designed to answer your specific questions, as follows: ‘The number of tansactons in which overcharges have occured, ‘The number of motorists who have been overcharged for tolls collected ‘The defecis inthe collection system that hive caused overcharging to occ, Any appropriate means to refund those who have been overcharged ‘The amounts of ell funds that have been overcharged ‘Systemic safeguards which canbe employed to prevent overcharging of lls in the future, peaene Fast Lane isan electronic tol collection (ETC) system that i interoperable with the EZ pass system ‘used in more than a dozen states. MTA has a contrat with TransCore to oper the thre Fast Lane service centers located in Aubum, Natick, and Fast Boston and to provide cusiomer service on its behalf, TransCore enrolls Fast Lane customer, issues Fast Lane tags, sets up Fast Lane accounts, Processes account payments, identifies toll violations, and provides other customer services. TransCore also operates a computer system known as the Advanced Revenue Collection System 2009.0509-3A4 (ARCS) to track all Fast Lane sotivty, A motorist may use Fast Lane if an Automatic Vehicle entiication (AVN) ta, also known as a transponder, is affited io the font of his or her vehicle. ach ag is encoded with the vehicle's class. The signal is read and then verified by the Automatic ‘Vehicle Classification (AVC) system at the tol collection booth. The AVC system uses loops Hit curtain, and teades in order to distinguish different classes of vebiles. The loop detects a vehicle asitenters an electronic toll plaza lane; the treadle in the pavement registers sale pressure and counts axles while alight curtain ses the beginning ofthe vehicle snd the en ofthe vehicle asi passes by In an express lane, an overhead scanner is used in place of light curtain (See Attachment 1) ‘The Turpike currently has 10 diferent vehicle classes (Clas 1 through 10) classified by the total number of ales (See Attachment 2). Asa vehicle passes though te electronic toll plazas lane, the AVC system will reed the transponder information. Each toll iscalulated based on the distance traveled and the vehicle clas, then is automstically charged against he motors's account, If there is ‘mismatch between the vehicle clas a signaled from the trnspender and the class determined by the i-lne equipment, this transaction will be flagged as an “Under Class" event within the ARCS, In order forthe MTA and TransCore to make a determination as to which Under Css events were overcharging motorists, additonal data was reviewed to ascertain whether other Under Class events occurred at other locations along the Turpike within the same day (H/-24 hours) asthe identified Under Class event. For example, if motorist was identified passing through other toll boots during the same day, or 24 hours before or afer that time period, with fewer axles than that amount ‘Wentfied by the orginal Under Class event, that motorist would be identified a being overcharged and eligible for a refund. ‘This test was extended to include an entie eslendar month where nine or ‘more Under Class events occurred. Any remaining Under Class events where a fll determination could not be made because there were no other same day transactions were identified a6 unknown, Such cate could occur where wehisle could have nite the Tange wiere there was no tellbooth to record the transaction, ‘The MTA and TransCore then designed and ran a report through ARCS for the entre 2008 fiscal year, The report revealed that there were over 119,000,000 Fast Lane ETC transactions during fiscal year 2008, 1,460,853 of which were Under Css events, MA's review ofthe data identified Clas 1 vehicles as having the greatest amount (461,336) of Under Class evens. In order to validate the 1,460,853 Under Class events, the MTA and TransCore selected recent Under Clase tansctions for single day (March 4, 2009) from a smal selection of lanes atone Tumpike Interchange. According to 2009-0509-3A4 MITA management, “March 4, 2009 was selected as it was a weekday (Wednesday) and therefore had ‘he normal mix of commuter and commercial traffic." Results from this data proved tobe consistent with the previous tests, in tha the vehicles that were overcharged on March 4, 2009 were identified as Fast Lane private Clas | passenger vehicles, In fonder to assess whether we could rely on the results of the analysis, we performed audit tests on ‘wansactions that had been identified as possible overcharges to ensure that the methodology employed by the MTA and TransCore wes accurate, valid, and complete. Our results were consistent With those of the MTA and TransCore forthe 75 transactions we examined, Further analysis and review by the MTA and TransCore of the data which had been developed resulted in the ‘identification of 113,940 transactions totaling $190,441 40, for an average of $1.67 per overcharge “These results also identified 31,468 unknown Under Class events that were valued at $53,443.25, 1 was also determined that intermittent malfunctions of computer equipment at the electronic toll plaza caused motorists to be overcharged while using the Turpike. The MTA and TransCore have ‘denied and repaired equipment malfinctions including the replacement hardware for ‘malfenctioning loops and improved the maintenance of light curtains whose sensors were blocked by snow and rosdway sls or other contaminants splashed on the glass with more frequent cleaning, In audition, MTA and TransCore continue to investigate issues regarding Fast Lane overcharging that ‘occured when overhead scanners inthe express lanes were unable o separate vehicles following 100 closely behind one another. We determined that although motorists have their own transponder, the AVC system has a imes read the closely following vehicle asa diferent type of vehicle and charges that motorist an incoret toll amount. This separation of vehicles has yet to be rectified and is particularly problematic during congested conditions when vehicles may be only inches apart. We also determined that the MTA had neither requested nor had TransCore completed Annval CCerfcation Tests mandated by state contract for 2007 or 2008. We fee that the performance of ‘hese Annual Certification Tests might have alerted personnel that ETC lane equipment, such 36 sensors, were failing to perform to specifictions. [Based upon our tests of the dats provided to us, we concur with the conclusion that there were 113,940 transactions out of over 119,000,000 ETC tanstetions where Fast Lane motorists were overcharged, (@ 0.096% exo rate), which falls within MTAA’s contact provision with TransCore requiring ETC computer equipment to operate at a 9.5% accuracy rate, Equipment malfunctions ‘were identified asthe defects in the ETC system that caused some overcharging to occur, and these ‘equipment malfimetions have been repaired. The MTA has determined tht an appropriate means of