The second quarter of tolling on three bridges connecting Louisville and Southern Indiana saw an increase in the number of crossings on the bridges and significant improvements in RiverLink customer service. Tolling on the SR 265 Lewis and Clark Bridge, I-65 Abraham Lincoln Bridge and I-65 Kennedy Bridge started Dec. 30, 2016.
The average time to answer a call to RiverLink customer service dropped dramatically in the second quarter of the year, from an average of 40.5 minutes in the first quarter to an average of 7.9 minutes in the second quarter. Even more improvement was seen in June, the final month of the quarter, when the average time to answer a call was less than a minute
“We want to thank RiverLink customers for their patience, and let them know significant improvements have been made,” said Megan McLain, innovative finance manager with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “We’re committed to delivering the help customers need in a timely fashion. The numbers show the many improvements we’ve made are working.”
Several steps have been taken to improve the customer experience. The biggest improvement has been increasing the number of customer service representatives. Currently 75 representatives answer calls to RiverLink customer service. Not only are calls being answered more quickly, but the number of calls abandoned has dropped dramatically.
An automated payment option was added in May, allowing customers to pay an invoice over the phone without ever talking to a customer service representative. Several improvements have also been made to the website, including the addition of a RiverLink Help section earlier this year. The RiverLink Help section is currently being updated, and will soon include step-by-step tutorials for managing RiverLink accounts.
Second Quarter Crossings
Nearly one million more drivers crossed the three tolled bridges in the second quarter of the year. Nearly 8 million crossings were recorded on the three bridges in April, May and June.
The average number of weekend and weekday crossings on tolled bridges both increased in the second quarter. The average number of weekday crossings climbed just over 10 percent in the second quarter, and the average number of weekend crossings climbed just over 18 percent.
The number of crossings increased on all three of the tolled bridges in the second quarter, with the largest increase seen on the Lewis and Clark Bridge.
Accounts and Transponders
Consistent growth was seen in the second quarter in the number of RiverLink accounts, and the number of RiverLink local transponders and RiverLink E-ZPass transponders requested. The number of RiverLink accounts increased 17 percent in the second quarter, with nearly 126,000 accounts opened by the end of June. A total of nearly 276,000 RiverLink local transponders and RiverLink E-ZPass transponders have been requested.
“We’re pleased to see more people opening RiverLink accounts and getting RiverLink transponders,” said Andy Dietrick, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Transportation. “However, we’re not seeing a substantial increase in the number of drivers crossing tolled bridges with transponders. It’s important for all drivers to remember that when they cross with a transponder and prepaid account, they’re paying the lowest toll rates.”
An average of 59 percent of drivers crossed tolled bridges with transponders during weekdays in the second quarter, an increase of 3 percentage points from the first quarter of the year.
Drivers Without Accounts
More drivers in Kentucky and Indiana crossed the tolled bridges with transponders in the second quarter. The number of Kentucky drivers crossing the tolled bridges without prepaid accounts and transponders dropped more than 14 percent, and the number of Indiana drivers crossing without prepaid accounts and transponders dropped nearly 12 percent. The number of out-of-state drivers without transponders and prepaid accounts dropped 3 percent from the first quarter.
For drivers without prepaid accounts and transponders, cameras capture an image of the license plate and an invoice is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. There’s no need for drivers to take any action until the invoice arrives. Initial invoices are for tolls owed, and do not include any penalties.
The number of drivers who qualified for the frequent-user discount was consistent, with a 2 percent increase in the number of frequent-users in the second quarter of the year.
The frequent-user discount is an automatic credit after 40 trips are posted on any of the three tolled bridges in a calendar month. The credit is 50 percent, and each additional trip that month is also discounted 50 percent.
The frequent-user discount is only for drivers in passenger vehicles with RiverLink personal accounts who maintain a positive balance. The frequent-user discount is per transponder, not per account.
Revenue to Date
Revenue numbers are preliminary for the second quarter. At the end of the second quarter, nearly $35 million had been collected and split evenly between Indiana and Kentucky. An additional $3.3 million will be received from E-ZPass systems in other states (drivers who crossed the tolled Ohio River bridges with E-ZPass transponders from other states).
The billing cycle is still active, and additional money is being collected from vehicle owners who have received invoices.
Revenue collected to date is in line with expectations, and both states are meeting their financial obligations for the Bridges Project. Toll revenue can only be used to meet financial obligations of the project and for operation and maintenance of the project area.