WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s been four months since the state reinstated tolls on the western part of the MassPike. Back then, 22News told you there are some people who are exempt from paying tolls.
The 22News I-Team dug deeper and discovered exactly who those people are and how much its costing the state.
By now, western Massachusetts drivers have learned how much the new tolls on the MassPike impacts their wallet.
“It’s just one more thing I have to take into consideration before I go somewhere,” said Huntington’s Carla Tacke.
The state brought the tolls back in October as a way to raise money for road projects, yet a 22News I-Team Investigation has revealed not everyone who uses the Pike has to pay they have non-revenue transponders.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request we got the names of the nearly 5,000 people who don’t have to pay tolls. We found out what their jobs are if they even work.
We discovered there are about 263 retired transportation employees who don’t have to pay tolls. Another 400 active employees are grandfathered into the privilege because they used to work for the Mass Transit Authority.
Also not paying tolls: 372 toll collectors, 25 contractors, 1,194 MassDOT Fleet vehicles, 2,562 state police cars, and the head of the toll collectors union also had the privilege worked into his contract.
In all, there are 4,821 non-revenue collecting transponders assigned.
Translated into dollars and cents since the tolls came back, retirees are excused from paying more than $15-thousand dollars.
The former MTA employees have saved $53,753, toll collectors – $71,782.
The I-Team traveled to Boston to talk to MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola, who also doesn’t have to pay the tolls. He explained they’d have to reimburse their workers for the cost of tolls while on the job anyway.
“If it goes toward a good cause like fixing highways and stuff, stuff that needs to be done, then I’m good with it but, if I don’t see any changes then I think it’s a waste,” said Westfield’s Christopher Krutka.
The state has already collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who do pay tolls.
The I-team will follow-up on this to see how that money is spent.