Man Hit With $27,000 Express Lane Bill
When handed a bill totaling over $27,000 just for using freeway express lanes, an Orange County man knew he had to fight it on a matter of principle.Not only could Cameron Aanestad not afford to pay the Orange County Transit Authoritiy, but also shook him to his libertarian core. "It just irritates my sense of justice," he told the Orange County Register.
The bill, which totals at $27,347.10, was the result of 141 express lane trips and fines. Aanestad says the bill should only be a relatively-paltry $687.10 from the tolls alone, and the rest is padded out with fines that stem from a credit card issue. OCTA says if there is an issue with an account holder's credit card on file, then they "go above and beyond" to let their customers know. "We're not in the business of collecting toll violations," said OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik.
Each toll violation should come with letters alerting drivers. But Aanestad says he never received what should've been more than 282 letters—though he concedes to the OC Register that he might have missed a few.
"There is not an issue with the notification process," said OCTA's Zlotnik.
Aanestad uses the 91 tolls lanes through his parents FasTrak account, and the issue first arose when his mother was issued a new bank card and she forgot to update the card information on the FasTrak account. A collection notice showed up last summer for thousands of dollars, catching Aanestad and his family off guard. "It was totally off my radar and went splat in my kitchen," he said.
A payment and a phone call by his mother were made and they thought the problem was fixed. But then the bill for $27,000 showed up in December. Aanestad says he was made an offer to pay off the bill immediately if it was cut in half, but he declined. After being denied a hearing over the matter and finding little hope after talking to a lawyer, he went public with his dilemma, creating the Cam's 91 Express Lanes Nightmare Facebook page.
Aanestad used to take the 91 freeway commute to get from his home in Menifee to his job in Anaheim. He no longer has to go through that trouble after starting a new job as a pastor in Temecula, just down the 215 freeway.