Free ride on toll roads officially over

April 22, 2008 9:38:04 AM PDT
Free toll rides officially ended today for Harris County Toll Road authority employees. Commissioners approved a new policy that formally stops an expensive practice that was exposed in a 13 Undercover investigation last summer. 13 undercover started looking into the free rides for toll road authority employees after county commissioners approved an increase in fares on the Westpark Tollway. That plan was scrapped shortly after our report and the free rides policy was suspended.

Today, Harris County commissioners approved a new policy. Under the new policy, the county would bar county EZtags in personal cars. It also requires employees using county vehicles to reimburse the Harris County Toll Road Authority for personal trips, including their daily commutes.

County officials say they'll rely on employee honesty, but they will be able to track usage.

Since the county revoked the policy last summer, about 650 people have turned back in their EZtags, saving the county hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Monday, it became official policy that EZtags would no longer be provided for personal use of county employee vehicles.

The tags will only be allowed in county vehicles or leased vehicles that are used in emergency situations or during times that county vehicles need to be on the toll road.

The practice of providing the EZtags to employees started back in 1987. It ended last summer after that 13 Undercover investigation.

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