Maria commented:[I]t’s pretty lousy for [banks] to tell customers these new efficiencies [such as ATMs] would make banking cheaper as well as easier, and then, once customers got hooked on them, start charging for them.

This reminds me of a trick the Delosa Toll Road Authority kept playing.

Step 1: Human toll collectors, inefficient because you had to pay people to man them. So, in the name of efficiency, they replaced them with…

Step 2: Automated tolls, which accepted dollar bills and change. However, the dollar-slots were pretty crappy back then with all but the most crisp bills being spit back out. This lead to congestive back-ups and having to hire people to help get people through. So they had to raise prices again, before deciding…

Step 3: Pull out the dollar machines and replace them with correct-change buckets and… human toll collectors again. This was going to be more efficient, except that they lead to price increases because of all the people had to be hired back. So they went to…

Step 4: Quickthru tags, which automated everything by charging-by-scanner. This was absolutely great for regular tollway users who would no longer even have to stop. It was worth it for even irregular ones to use them if they used the tollways even periodically. These didn’t require people manning booths or machines and so was more efficient, until…

Step 5: Complaints about account-upkeep, which necessitated a monthly fee to use these tags that were going to be way more efficient, which then caused…

Step 6: People to cancel their accounts, forget that they had done so, and accidentally drive through the Quickthru lanes (or people who couldn’t get over into the right lane). Allegedly poor compliance with fines lead to shortfalls, which had to be made up for with increased rates for those that actually had the Quickthru tags. But with the account fees and fines, they still found it worthwhile to make…

Step 7: All new toll roads were made Quickthru-only and entrances to High-Occupancy-Toll lanes were put right on the freeway so if you were in the wrong lane, before you knew it you were in a HOT lane and subject to the fines that they had to raise toll rates for due to the allegedly poor compliance.

Truth be told, I can’t really complain about the toll rates in and around Colosse. They’re not all that bad. And if they would have simply said “We need to raise rates to pay for the roads” or “We need to raise rates to reduce congestion” I actually would have understood. The congestion on tollways is of course better than regular freeways, but could use some cleaning up with even more high prices. I just found it aggravating that they kept reframing it as they were doing these things to make things more convenient for us.

Category: Road

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

4 Responses to The Tollway Two-Step

  1. web says:

    Supposedly, CTRA is supposed to give you three “warnings” before they can actually issue a fine to someone for going through a Quickthru lane without a Quickthru pass. They put this in place a while back after a number of people complained about being forced into those lanes out of safety reasons (unable to get to the right due to Colosse’s crappy drivers, blocked out by emergency vehicles, etc).

    What annoys me more is the new proliferation of projects that are “Quickthru Only” allowed, which if you ever want to use them, basically force you to get and maintain a Quickthru pass.

  2. trumwill says:

    I don’t know if they actually issue warnings, but I can vouch for Quickthru that they will apparently cut you slack on your first goof-up. I never heard back from them when I accidentally ran through last spring.

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    I can’t really complain about the toll rates in and around Colosse.

    Well considering you no longer live there, that totally makes sense. 😛

    Since I’m not an economist, I don’t think there should be any toll roads. After all, I am already paying a “hidden” tax when I buy gasoline; paying a toll is double taxation.

    Also, it amounts to a substantial amount over the course of a year. If you told someone in NJ that it would cost $250 a year to use the same 10-mile stretch of the Garden State Parkway, he would choke on his Taylor Ham sandwich. But since the NJTA is getting it 50c at a time, it is more palatable. And, with EZ-Pass, he doesn’t even notice it. But, it is $250 nonetheless.

  4. trumwill says:

    Well considering you no longer live there, that totally makes sense.

    I was driving my parents’ car. So they would have gotten it.

    Since I’m not an economist, I don’t think there should be any toll roads. After all, I am already paying a “hidden” tax when I buy gasoline; paying a toll is double taxation.

    I might agree with the caveat that gas taxes be increased to pay for all of the roads. But even then, no. I like the idea of people willing to pay for it having the option of getting there faster and everyone else saving money by taking less traffic. It’s not a bad form of price-sorting.

    Of course, in Delosa there are non-horrendous always ways to get from Point A to Point B without going on a toll road. Tolls on bridges or freeways where there is no clear bypass annoy me.

    I would pay $250 for unlimited use of a tollway without thinking twice. They really should offer that sort thing. Some people would get more than their money’s worth, but I expect that others would do it just so that it becomes a fixed expense and then end up using it less than they expected.

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