Tollbooth rant

Is it just me, or are tollbooths one of the most irritating and insulting things in the world? I’m told the logic is that without them, there would be too much traffic in places. But are they really a deterrent? I mean, are people really not going where they need to go because there is a tollbooth?

No. It just slows them down, causes gridlock, lots of pollution, and fills government coffers.

And as for this EZ-Pass crap…

They put in EZ-Pass as if they are doing us a favor. Gee, thanks assholes - make it slightly easier for me to give you money, and in return you can track my every movement. I don’t know where this has gone in the legal system, but the police have already used EZ-Pass records to track people down. Hello Big Brother.

Now I understand that we need a way to fund roads and other projects, but there must be a better way. The logic is just so awful - we need to fund roads, so lets do it in a way that renders the roads non-functional!

I ALMOST wish some lunatic would go bomb one so the powers that be would have a typical knee-jerk reaction and ban them all.

Anyone else feel this way? Shall we band together to demmand the removal of the durn things?

Where I come from, we don’t have tollbooths – we pay road user tax on petrol and diesel.

Pay more money to Uncle Sam through the gas tank, or keep the dumb tollbooths. Your choice, I suppose.

I simply kept an ashtray full of quarters and used the exact change lanes.


Take the train.

Oh, haven’t got one? My sincere regrets.

I hate tollbooths. I have to drive through one twice a day on 95 South to go through the Harbor Tunnel - that’s $2 a day. I bought an “M-Tag” which means I pay $0.40 a trip. I understand the purpose of such a thing, but it really does just fuck up traffic.

The Harbor Toll: you gotta picture this. Four lanes of traffic going upwards of 70 miles per hour (the speed limit is 55, but no one does that, ever). Then it disintegrates into the Indy 500 - lane markings end, no lines, just 12 tollbooths. It get’s crazy. I’ve seen people swerve over 4 “lanes” to get to a shorter line. And since about 4 of the 12 booths are for M-Tag owners only, people accidentally aim for them and then have to get over (it’s an easy mistake to make, what with horns blaring and cars rampaging all over the place). I’m lucky since the M-Tag lanes never have lines, but back before the M-Tag (like three days ago) I had to wait at least 5 minutes in line every morning.

The worst part? It goes back to four lanes anyway. The twelve booths narrow down to four lanes, and it’s hard to see where the lanes start, since there are no markings for a while. It’s a nuisance. Cars swerve. People honk. Fingers are raised. I hate every goddamn minute of it.

And there’s always some fucker who pays with a $20 or asks for a reciept. I understand that this is sometimes a neccessity, but boy does it irritate me.

Hell, I go from Erie to Niagara Falls often enough that I’ve almost thought of getting one :wink:

They always have seemed rather haunting to me. I didn’t know what exactly they were until I saw the box that hangs in the window…seems very easy to track someone!! Is there even any savings involved with the things?

Rugby, as a one-time resident of Niagara Falls, I believe that there is some sort of discount, at least on the Grand Island bridges, for some EZ Pass users. If I recall correctly, I was paying 35 cents a trip instead of 50.

Ah, here it is. The “Grand Island Commuter Plan.” Make 13 trips a month (that’s 7 round-trips to the Cataract City) and you wind up paying only 13(!) cents per trip instead of four bits.

Plus, it’s been my experience in driving across New York that EZ Pass lanes are almost always much faster than waiting in line. If you can put up with the occasional illiterate who gets in the wrong lane, the privacy implications of EZ Pass are far outweighed by the convenience in my book. Face it, if you’re going to be spied on, there are a lot more intrusive things that can be done than seeing which highways you drive on and when.

Here in Illinois, long ago the story was that the toll booths would only be in place until the roads were paid for.

Yeah, right.

The Governor has indicated that Tollway Authority reform is one of his priorities this year.

We shall see.

Even here in Washington, DC, which has excellent public transportation, the Metro doesn’t go everywhere. If you want to get out past Vienna/Fairfax, esp. to Reston or Dulles, you have to take the Dulles Toll Road off of 66. But thanks for your non-answer.

We have tollbooths here in Beijing, but I love 'em :slight_smile:

The reason is that the only tollbooths are for “special” roads, that are absolutely perfect in every way and never seem to get overcrowded.

The free roads suck real bad, they’re always full of government truckloads of workers and the accident rate is off the charts. That’s why ya gotta love seeing those tollbooths coming up :wink:

But putting these things up all over the place would drive me nuts, espacially if you had to wait in line just to pay the damned tax! So I feel your pain there :slight_smile:

Just be glad you’re not in Indonesia though. Things have changed now, but apparently the president’s daughter (Tutut Suharto) owned the entire road system and collected all the toll money into her own pocket. Nice little earner there, make people pull over every few miles and pay some money :wink:

What, you don’t wanna pay? OK, drive off-road then :slight_smile:

– G. Hrafn

PLD, sorry if I annoyed you. I am perfectly aware that public transit is not always convenient.

The point is, the author of the OP seems to be complaining about having to pay directly for usage of one’s personal vehicle on certain roads. I wish I could work up more sympathy for that view.

I see nothing particularly unfair about directly charging road (and bridge) users for wear and tear to the facilities they drive over (if the money just goes into a general fund I’d object to that).

I suppose a direct-debit scheme for tollway users might be possible, but the privacy issues associated with such would be even less palatable than with EZPass, IMO.

The only other possibility I can see is perhaps increased regional taxes on fuel.

In Illinois, trucks must use the manual lanes on the right, exact change lanes are to the left of those, and I-Pass (express) is on the far left, usually one or 2 lanes, for autos only. I read an article in the paper today that they are experimenting with a truck I-Pass lane. Get this - it will be right in the middle, between the manual lanes and the exact change lanes. So you will have someone who thought they had exact change, switching over to the manual lanes at the last minute, right in front of an oncoming semi barrelling towards the I-Pass truck lane. Sounds like a wonderful system to me.

I think the I-Pass system is one of the most wonderful inventions ever. It automatically charges a set amount ($20 or so) to your credit card when your balance gets to a certain amount. No more having to keep piles of change, or digging for my wallet. And the I-Pass lanes are almost always quicker.

My worry is that you are supposed to slow down to 30 MPH through the lanes. Yeah right! I hope they never start cracking down on those of us who don’t.

I also wish they would give I-Pass users a discount.

Yeah, I know everyone is gathering all this info on each of us. But the government potentially tracking the tolls I pay is not one of my top priorities.

Y’know, now that I’ve heard some more about it, maybe I should sign up for this EZPass system.

It’s not that it’ll save me money; I rarely go somewhere that I have to pay a toll for. However, if the government knows where I am at all times, maybe they’ll be a bit more efficient in delivering my goddamned mail.

Um, no. Read my original post again sir. What I said was that I realize we need to fund the roads somehow, but that tollbooths are a silly solution to the problem. And the situation is exacerbated by the comparitively poor public transportation system we have in the U.S., as you pointed out.

Having done some travelling, I know that we here in the states enjoy a fantastic price for gasoline compared to most other countries (my friend Bill in the UK says this is because the U.S. “tends to rain miss-iles down upon any who even hint at raising our oil prices”, but I digress). However, I feel there must be a better solution to the problem than tollbooths. Being that I’m not a road planner, I don’t know what that solution might be. So I’m doing the next best thing - screaming about it and hoping it will make me feel better.

I’ll also say I’m a bit surprised by the support EZ-Pass seems to be getting in this thread. Despite the relative convenience compared to handing over cash to a human, I thought more people would see it as the government making it easier for us to fork over money, while still slowing us down on the roads.

OK, perhaps LOVE is too strong a word,
But I cross the Delaware River on a toll bridge a couple times a week. Ditto for driving the NJ Turnpike.

And with EZ-PASS, I get to go to the lanes with no other cars in them, drive straight through, NOT fumble for change, NOT have to mess with little slips of paper for my Expense reports (I get a nice e-mailed statement once a month), AND I get a 10% discount every time, which more than covers any interest I might otherwise be earning on the ~$30 they keep in my account.

Of course this is assuming that toll roads are a given, and EZ-PASS therefore just makes them easier to live with. I do have a hard time believing that the Turnpike isn’t paid for yet.
It was a bit weird last year before the EZP system was activated and all the tollbooth banks had big signs saying “EZ-PASS IS COMING!” like they were offering some pre-apocalyptic get-out-of-hell-free card.

We wouldn’t have Toll House Cookies.

And that would be a shame.

I agree that tolls are kinda silly. I know EZ-Pass is a great invention, but a better invention would be to get rid of tolls.

Another problem related to toll highways is the fewer numbers of exits and entrances.

What would be the downside to paying for highways with gasoline taxes? I realize that non-highway drivers would be subsidizing the highways, but that’s the way taxes go - people end up subsidizing other people, but (theoretically? hopefully?) making everyone better off on average.

Ok, one more try, then I’m done.

So we need to scrap tollbooths because they hold up traffic, and EZPass invades one’s privacy. Here is the solution: Anonymous Electronic Change (AEC). Brand name: Cense™. I’ve just invented it.

Cence is a little disc-shaped solid-plastic deal that fits in a pocket and contains a chip that can be reprogrammed, like a smart card. To charge it up, take it to a local convenience store, fork over 10 or 20 bucks, and the clerk charges it by waving it over a terminal supplied for the purpose. You get a receipt for the charge. Voila, small change in electronic form, with no loss of privacy if you pay cash. To buy a newspaper, wave it in front of a reader, like the one used to read Mobil’s Speedpass. The reader, after verifying that the Cense has sufficient credit to cover the transaction, also debits the Cense disc and writes the date, time and nature of the transaction to the disc. Do the same for tolls; wave the Cense out the window of your car as you pass the booth, without stopping.

Each time you recharge your Cense, you get a printed record of the transactions on the previous charge. Thus you can turn in the toll receipts for reimbursement if necessary. If you want to buy this month’s Playboy without your company accountant knowing, better get a separate Cense for that, you little stinker.

This is not miles away from the Speedpass/Ezpass technology already in use. Cense would simply expand the concept to all types of small purchases, while preserving the anonymity of the transaction.

Problem solved. E-mail me to discuss the licencing arrangements.:smiley:

Rocket88, you are awesome. That would be a wonderful idea. Come on, folks, someone on this board must be a “wo/man of action” who can get this done. I live in a part of town without toll roads, and I can think of LOTS of places that this would be totally handy for.


Well, most times I take the Peace Bridge to Canada and go to the Fort Erie casino, which seems to have much better payouts than Casino Niagara and isn’t usually as packed either. But when I DO go to Niagara Falls, it’s always easier to go to Niagara Falls, NY and take the Rainbow Bridge, because the way off the QEW is rather easy to get lost on. As a result, I barely take the Grand Island way, so don’t really need that :). I was mostly referring to the $2.10 trip between the PA border and Buffalo…that’s always a pain in the ass!