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It can be stated without question that Washington State’s electronic toll system should have received an F.
The state’s expensive, supposedly state-of-the-art Good To Go! system misread that very letter on someone else’s license plate as an E. Its computers then decided that a car in my family had crossed the world’s longest floating bridge on the evening of Valentine’s Day 2014–in just one direction, mind you–and applied a $3.95 charge to an account I had set up and funded with $30.00.
I only learned about this six months later when I looked at the account online after reading scathing Seattle Times columns by Danny Westneat (here and here) about the many billing problems of Good To Go! I had not crossed the span, the Route 520 bridge across Lake Washington west toward Seattle, since it became tolled again in December 2011, a few months after becoming New To Seattle. Upon my emailed protest, a human in the Good To Go! system, part of the Washington State Department of Transportation and which covers one other toll bridge and a road, took a look at the recorded photographic image and quickly canceled the charge.
But I wanted to see for myself the stark evidence of rank governmental incompetence. I formally demanded my rights to inspection and copying under the Washington State Public Records Act. Eventually, staffers at the Good To Go! customer service office in Seattle, where I went after filing my public records request, showed me the photographic image and gave me a copy.
The image, as you can see above, was barely legible even after the agency and I tried to enhance it. So I’m not sure how much I should credit the claims of Good To Go! workers that their automatic toll system hardly ever screws up automatically.
But I know one failing grade it deserved.