Reporting Leads to Billing Overhaul

When KXAN-TV’s investigative reporting team started digging into toll tag bills from dozens of irate motorists who contacted the station, things didn’t quite add up. When the team started asking questions of the state agency that oversees the tollway system, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) suggested customers simply weren’t paying their bills — and refused to explore whether the billing system itself had problems.

Yet according to KXAN, since the beginning of 2017, 2.2 million TxTag toll accounts have been sent to collections, racking up a billion dollars in late fees. Can 2.2 million customers all be wrong?

KXAN’s team kept digging and kept asking questions until they got the attention of a state legislator who began calling for a complete overhaul of the toll system. Then the House Speaker added the issue to a list of items for the House Transportation Committee to tackle ahead of the 2019 legislative session. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor also reacted to TxDOT, ordering the agency to re-evaluate ways to deal with the state’s transportation challenges. By the end of 2017, KXAN’s reporting had made a public impact by helping customers to get their account concerns resolved and for many, waivers of the massive fines. To best showcase the coverage for viewers and readers, KXAN created a special, interactive web page, and the investigative team continues to follow the initial investigation.

Sarah Rafique, Josh Hinkle, and Brittany Glas visit with Foundation Chairman Mark Morrison on the story behind their award-winning story, “TxTag Troubles.”