Digital Edition

Aug.21, 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 44 of 63

SURFACE & DOMESTIC TRANSPORTATION THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 45 While it is possible that the toll transpon- ders in drivers' cabs are malfunctioning, local reports suggest that many independent owner-operators are not using transponders at all in order to avoid paying tolls. When a truck passes through a tolling gantry with- out a functioning transponder, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority's cameras photograph the rear license plate, which is tied to the chassis owner and not the driver behind the wheel. "The chassis pool operators are getting the toll charges from the toll authority and then billing the drayman. The drayman pays the chassis pool operators. Then the dray- man in turn bills the owner-operator who tried to avoid the toll," Hilsenbeck told The Journal of Commerce. Although, in some cases, by the time the final bill arrives at the drayman's desk, Hilsenbeck said, that independent driver is long gone, already working for another com- pany under another contract. Draymen are left to absorb the cost themselves, which results in higher rates for shippers. "Right now, one of the lowest dray rates in the area is $312," Hilsenbeck said. "If incidental charges like unpaid tolls keep mounting, that $312 is probably not going to exist next year; it's probably going to be in the $340 to $350 range." Chassis providers and chassis pool man- agers in the Chicago area, including major players such as Flexi-Van and Consolidating Chassis Management (CCM), have reported an uptick in unpaid tolling fees. Neither Flexi-Van or CCM, however, could esti- mate just how much has been accumulated in fees from the tolling authority. Nor could they explain why there's been an uptick in reported unpaid tolls. The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority has not responded to inquiries. "I don't know the details of their exact quantities and numbers," said Tony Rangel, director of business development for fleet services at American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Chassis provider Flexi-Van hired ATS a little more than four months ago to, as Rangel put it, "minimize financial expo - sure." The company, probably best known as a major provider of red-light cameras and safety technology, essentially foots the bill for any toll racked up by a driver with a Flexi-Van chassis. "What we do specific to Flexi-Van is we manage their license plates with all the authorities around the country, so if a power unit doesn't toll responsibly, we have basi- cally enrolled all of Flexi-Van's license plates, all their chassis, under our name. If a photo is taken of a rear plate because a transponder failed, they actually will see that plate sits on our account, and it actually stops a violation from ever being issued," Rangel said. ATS gets billed, and Flexi-Van gets a monthly invoice that includes the cost of the unpaid tolls and an administrative cost from ATS. For chassis that are managed through a pool, paying off the unpaid toll can be more challenging than for those owned and leased out by companies such as Flexi-Van. "At the end of the day, because Flexi-Van is the title holder, they're on the hook. So CCM's challenge is different," Rangel said. "Where a pool management company comes in, they manage, they don't own, but they manage assets from several contributors." "It's just been causing a ruckus," Hilsen- beck said. JOC Contact Reynolds Hutchins at and follow him on Twitter: @Hutchins_JOC. "These unpaid tolls are just another example of dray rates increasing."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Digital Edition - Aug.21, 2017