MWAA officials said notices are sent after violations are reviewed internally and by the contractor. But according to an MWAA audit that was discussed at a recent authority board meeting, MWAA officials don’t have information on why some violations are dismissed without payment, a practice that could be costing the authority hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. The MWAA has declined to release the audit.
Since the MWAA began managing the toll road in 2009, the percentage of violation notices that are paid has declined. In 2010, about 42 percent of toll violations were paid; in 2011, the percentage declined to 27 percent.
Maximizing revenue on the toll road is important, in part, because toll income is supposed to finance more than half the cost of the $5.6 billion Silver Line Metrorail extension. The MWAA is responsible for managing the 23.1-mile project, which will provide Metrorail service to Tysons and eventually to Dulles International Airport.
Many transportation agencies look to toll revenue to pay for big-ticket transportation projects. The region’s most notable examples are the Intercounty Connector in Maryland and the Capital Beltway expansion in Virginia.
The MWAA, a regional agency that operates Dulles and Reagan National airports, has a business agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation to process toll violations. VDOT, in turn, has a contract with Faneuil, a firm based in Hampton, Va., to track down those who fail to pay.
Andrew Roundtree, the MWAA’s chief financial officer, said it is not clear whether a closer examination of toll violations would translate into more money for the authority. But the audit, he said, was part of an effort to “ensure we’re not losing out on anything.”
“We clearly want to fulfill our responsibility to follow up on toll violators,’’ he said
Tom Davis, a member of the MWAA board, said it is a question he and others have been asking for years.
“We’re looking at revamping the whole thing,” Davis said. “It’s all on the table: How do we maximize fairness and revenue?”
The toll problem was first reported by the Washington Examiner.
Even as the percentage of violation notices has declined, revenue from fines has increased. In 2010, the authority collected about $715,000 from toll violations; in 2011, about $1.1 million. Roundtree attributed the increased revenue to higher toll rates.
For users of the toll road, it’s about fairness.
If authority officials are not pursuing toll violators, “then that’s something they ought to be doing,” said Terry Maynard, a member of the Reston Citizens Association, a group that has opposed using toll road revenue to pay for the rail line.