Border Highway Toll Lane Fees In Effect Friday, Boycott Underway
Local Activist Against TollTAG Sales At Ace Cash Express
The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) is considering stopping the sale of toll tags at ACE Cash Express stores after residents criticized the partnership with the payday lender.
The CRRMA board will vote on whether to end the sale of toll tags at ACE and instead sell them at a city facility, such as the City of El Paso's one-stop-shop building, said Raymond Telles, the CRRMA's Executive Director. The vote is slated for the board's January 22nd meeting.
"Our Board President and board members feel really strongly about this issue and we are exploring options other than ACE," said Telles over the phone on Thursday.
The move comes as residents have expressed disapproval of the partnership with ACE. Activist Jim Tolbert is calling for a boycott of the toll lanes until the tags are no longer sold at ACE locations.
"I was disgusted because it is a predatory lender. We're looking at an entity that harms people with their high interest rates. Taking people into those offices is much like, in my opinion, introducing someone to a meth dealer," said Tolbert.
The CRRMA partnered with the North Texas Tollway Authority to sell the tags online, on the phone, through the mail and in person. The NTTA has an existing partnership with ACE Cash Express in North Texas. "Our partnership with the NTTA and not with Ace," said Telles in a prior interview.
The CRRMA is not equipped to sell toll tags on its own because it has a staff of one: Telles.
According to a corporate ACE representative, the payday lender has issued more than 1,100 toll tags in North Texas over the last three months and five of those customers became new ACE customers. He said they provide a convenient option for individuals who prefer to pay with cash. Supporters of the industry say pender lenders provide a necessary service for individuals who can't take out a bank loan.
If the board votes to amend the contract with NTTA, the CRRMA will keep the online, phone and mail component provided by the NTTA but will forego the partnership with ACE.
Since January 1st, 73 people in the El Paso area have opened accounts and paid for toll tags to use the toll lanes. Some accounts request more than one toll tag and 96 toll tags have been issued. All of those were purchased via phone or online and none at ACE, said Telles.
If a driver does not purchase a toll tag but still used the toll lanes, cameras will capture the vehicle's license plates and the registered owner will receive a bill in the mail that will include the cost of postage.
Newspaper Tree has reported ACE's partnership with the NTTA stems from a no-bid contract that did not go through a board vote. According to the article, the origins of the partnership are not entirely known.
Read the newspaper tree story at http://bit.ly/KFGJAb.
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