I-66 inside the beltway now has high-occupancy toll lanes during rush hour, eastbound in the morning and westbound in the afternoon. Pricing is dynamic so the toll rises as volume/demand increases. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

You heard the deal on the new I-66 Express Lanes: Motorcycles and vehicles carrying two or more people can use the lanes free.

Except since tolling began last month, some motorcycles have been tolled.

The laser scanner that determines vehicle size has been reading some motorcycles passing through as cars, a spokeswoman with the Virginia Department of Transportation said. VDOT is working to fix the glitch.

Spokeswoman Michelle Holland said “a small number” of motorcycles have mistakenly been charged. She said the problem is that in some instances the equipment that determines vehicle size is detecting motorcycles traveling with a motorcycle-class transponder as cars, and therefore, charging a toll.

“The laser scanner is effective, but not infallible,” Holland said.

VDOT’s contractor is looking into software improvements to resolve the glitch, she said. Meanwhile, she said, motorcyclists  who have mistakenly been charged a toll need to contact VDOT to get a full refund.

Motorcyclists say they’ve been seeing charges piling up on their E-ZPass accounts. Reston resident Steven Dreiss, who rides a motorcycle to work, said he was surprised to see he’d been charged more than $50 in tolls on the I-66 lanes since last month. And, because of the weather, he wasn’t riding daily.

“There’s nine charges this year. I am going to start riding and they will start piling up,” he said.

“People are appalled at the cost,” Dreiss said. “VDOT says the system is working right, legislators have said it needs to stop because it is unfair. I submit that the tolls should stop until the system works right.”

Motorcycles using the I-66 Express Lanes are not required to have a transponder, but officials recommend they use a motorcycle-class E-ZPass, which is needed on other toll roads. Because Dreiss uses the Dulles Toll Road on his commute, his motorcycle is equipped with that E-ZPass.  The I-66 system has been reading the motorcycle transponder wrong.

In the first two weeks of the tolling operations, Brian Dubas, of Annandale, said he was charged for seven transactions — more than $112 in tolls. VDOT refunded all the charges. But Dubas said it took several phone calls and a lot of time to get things straightened out and he needs to continue to monitor his E-ZPass transactions until the situation is fully resolved.

The system that rolled out Dec. 4 drew criticism from commuters after tolls hit $40 the first week. But officials say the system is working as intended.  Some motorcycle commuters said they also expect it to work right.

“This is getting ridiculous,” Dreiss said. “I don’t care if you start tolls or if everyone complains about high tolls. But if am not supposed be charged, why are you charging me?”

Holland said motorcycle drivers or anyone using the I-66 Express Lanes who believes they were mistakenly charged a toll should contact Virginia’s E-ZPass Customer Service Center at 877-762-7824; Virginia Relay Center (TTY Callers) can call 800-828-1120.  An automated telephone system is available 24 hours; customer service representatives are available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday – Friday.