Carlucci’s Column: Canceling Conduent

BY SENATOR DAVID CARLUCCI

Conduent is the company who operates cashless tolling in New York State. Drivers have experienced numerous issues with the cashless tolling system, specifically over the Tappan Zee Bridge. This is why in July, I called on the NYS Thruway Authority to cancel the state’s contract with Conduent.

NYS government is poorly allocating taxpayer dollars by investing in a company that is not performing up to the standards New York drivers deserve. My office has received many complaints from residents who were charged exorbitant penalties and fines. In some cases, constituents claimed they never received their initial bill. The most distressing cases were reports of drivers who had their vehicle registration suspended due to unpaid toll bills.

Due to Conduent’s mismanagement, the NYS Thruway Authority implemented the 2018 amnesty program that cleared 281,000 Mario M. Cuomo Bridge violations worth more than $1.4 million. After all this, it was quite surprising to learn that the Thruway Authority approved an amendment to award Conduent a $24.5 million extension, which brought their contract to $317 million. I understand the additional revenue is for the expansion of cashless tolling in Harriman Spring Valley, Yonkers and New Rochelle Plazas. However, it is alarming that there has not been serious consideration of the previous problems mentioned.

Recently, U.S. Senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Gary Peters of Michigan wrote to the Federal Trade Commission calling for Conduent to be investigated. In their letter, both senators noted that, “it appears Conduent’s mismanagement could be considered unfair under the FTC Act, which prohibits conduct that (1) causes or is likely to cause substantial harm, (2) is not reasonably avoidable by consumers, and (3) is not outweighed by any countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.”

The NYS Thruway Authority has the power to withhold payments to Conduent when they do not meet certain performance standards and Conduent has been penalized in the past for their poor customer service. However, there must be serious consideration of whether their contract should be canceled and rewritten to benefit taxpayers or if it’s necessary to go with a different cashless tolling operator entirely.