ORLANDO, Fla. — Recent steps taken to resolve ongoing SunPass billing problems will bring relief to customers "in the short term, but definitely in the long term," the state transportation secretary says.

In an interview with Spectrum News's Watchdog team, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault is addressing concerns from SunPass customers who have received erroneous bills or incorrect toll-by-plate invoices that don’t match customers' license plates.

Thibault wanted to reassure drivers that with the steps being taken — including starting a search for a new vendor and adding customer service representatives this summer — the SunPass billing problems will be resolved.

"They will definitely see relief either in the short term, but definitely in the long term," Thibault said.

Thibault has "long-term" confidence because of the state’s decision to not renew the contract for SunPass computer system vendor Conduent.

Already, he says his team is taking the necessary steps to find a replacement for the current vendor, whose contract ends in 2022. 

Late last month, FDOT put out a three-page request for information from potential vendors that said the agency is looking for information from vendors centered on the development of a new back-office system to process toll transactions and that the system needs to be operational by May 2022. 

"What we are really doing is... developing a procurement schedule so that we can see what it is going to take to get there and... make sure they are really providing the level of expertise, the level of technology and the qualifications, that we are looking for our customers on the SunPass system," Thibault said. 

To date, the state of Florida has fined Conduent a little more than $8 million. In July, lawmakers said they planned to have Senate hearings on SunPass. As for those customers who are still having troubles with SunPass billing, the secretary is urging them to call the customer service center. 

"Continue to reach out. We have added a number of customer service representatives, so the average call wait time now is only 37 seconds," Thibault said.

SunPass will finish out this current contract with Conduent. In the meantime, FDOT said its addition of more customer service reps has cut average call wait times for people reporting errors to an average of 15 seconds or less.