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State finally makes progress on 32nd day of Florida SunPass disaster

The state is slowly processing the first of approximately 100 million SunPass tolls backlogged, as drivers continue to call SunPass customer service for help.
Credit: 10News
SunPass lanes on a Florida tollway.

TAMPA BAY, Fla. - Sources in Tallahassee confirm to 10Investigates the Florida Department of Transportation is close to fixing its broken SunPass tolling system. The Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) has slowly started processing a backlog of approximately 100 million toll transactions.

Sources said larger numbers of transactions are likely to start posting after the July 4 holiday.

State officials had remained largely mum on the SunPass outage, which has kept electronic tolls from showing up on millions of drivers' accounts since the start of June.

Interactive Timeline: Click or tap here to view 10News' coverage of the SunPass woes

Drivers began taking to social media to vent about their inability to file expense reports, their problems with customer service and their concern for monster bills that could arrive once all the backed-up tolls are processed.

10Investigates broke the news two weeks ago about the widespread billing problems, which have led to a backlog of about 100 million toll transactions.

The electronic tolling upgrade, designed to consolidate many of the state's large tolling authorities on a single billing system, was supposed to last from June 6-11. However, the state's chosen contractor, Conduent, had failed to get the system to work properly the entire month.

Following more than a week of 10Investigates' questions about Conduent and SunPass, the state put the contractor on notice last Thursday. It had 10 business days to straighten the mess out or it would be in default on its $287 million contract.

The acknowledgment of the system's failure was a departure for FDOT and the Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE), which had initially downplayed the problems to 10Investigates and dismissed them as an "inconvenience." A spokesperson said tolls were being held up simply as a courtesy to drivers while the state perfected its new system.

Two weeks later, the lack of communication from the state is compounding frustrations with the system outage. FDOT and FTE spokespersons had not returned 10Investigates' messages for four days.

Drivers report long waits to speak to SunPass customer service representatives, only to be told the operators have no answers and the system should be back up and running "soon." One viewer, who identified herself as a Conduent/SunPass call center employee, expressed frustration at the lack of information she had been provided in order to do her job.

10Investigates has been documenting how FDOT gave the $287 million electronic tolling contract in 2015 to Conduent (then, a part of the Xerox company) despite its ongoing problems with electronic tolling systems around the country. Even as problems grow - in at least five states - Conduent has continued to pay its top executives tens of millions of dollars.

When 10Investigates took the problems to Gov. Rick Scott last week, it didn't appear as if he had been briefed as to the severity of the failures.

His spokesperson has since put out a statement that said, "Gov. Scott firmly believes that every vendor that does business with the State of Florida first and foremost serves and is accountable to the families and taxpayers of our state...FDOT has committed that this vendor will be held fully accountable and that FDOT will continue to aggressively work until this is fixed.”

Interactive Timeline: Click or tap here to view 10News' coverage of the SunPass woes

he state announced it would waive all late fees related to the system outage, but it has failed to answer some of 10Investigates questions regarding what it would do to address the impending crush of customer service calls once tolls begin processing.

A FDOT spokesperson said Monday wait times for SunPass call centers have been reduced from 30 minutes to around 10 minutes. However, they are anticipating more problems once tolls start processing again and staff will be working "extended hours."

10Investigates will continue to dig into the problems and report new developments.

To reach SunPass customer service, call 1-888-865-5352 or click here.

Find 10Investigates' Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Share your SunPass stories confidentially to npransky@wtsp.com.

Want to view an interactive timeline of the SunPass maintenance woes? Click or tap here

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