No more toll takers?

The Herald reports Gov. Patrick is looking at replacing toll takers with electronic systems.

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    Scandal!

    But of course I'd expect nothing less from the Herald.

    Replace no-skill warm bodies with a more efficient system? They'd have complained if he *didn't* do it. They'd also have complained if he had ham for breakfast (What, you got a problem with bacon?), and again if he didn't (What, you got a problem with ham?).

    Is there some alternate

    Is there some alternate universe you're referring to here? The article references the cost of the new system a couple of times. There is no personal attack on the governor, and certainly no defense of toll takers. You seem to suffer from Herald Derangement Syndrome here.

    Oh come on. First off...it's

    Oh come on.

    First off...it's revealed by the "Truth Squad", implying from the get-go that it's shady. The very first sentence starts it all off, saying that he's doing it "quietly" and calling the plan "pricey" while contrasting the cost against a pullback in spending. It's a cost-saving measure but the very first sentence pretty much bills it as "spending money we don't have".

    And then at the end, they stuff a bunch of words into the mouth of some guy from Swampscott. "the expensive process shouldn’t come as cities and towns are facing painful cuts" - there's a fair bit of editorializing here. Just quote the guy and move on.

    Yes, Google Maps is a

    Yes, Google Maps is a terrific app that is perfect for people who never were organized to look at earlier web sites such as mapquest or google maps or paper road maps that came before them.

    Back to today's topic, I like the idea of a Herald Truth Squad. It reminds me of the subset, "Compassionate Conservative" which points out that the rest of conservative is not compassionate (picture the Ron Paul rally where the audience cheered the idea of letting sick people die). Of course a better name would be "The Truthiness Squed", but that name may aready be taken.

    Good Luck Herald, I"m sure the Truth squad will draw several new readers.

    Wait...

    I have to chime in off topic wise as this is an example of how opinions gets shaped. To my knowledge and checking myself on Google, there is no rally that cheered "let him die!" or something similar.

    Your reference to the actual event occurred from a debate where Ron Paul was asked a scenario that if a man forgoes insurance and then enters a health catastrophe then who will cover for him. This led to a number exchanges of words. The important leading points was that ideally he should buy coverage and assume the risk and responsibility of his choices. The culminate to the question "Should society let him die?" Ron Paul immediate answer was no and points out that he was practicing medicine before the existence of Medicare, but was still able to provide service regardless of ability afford. Meanwhile two voice from the audience screamed out "yes!"

    Two voices from the audience screaming that is a big difference from a whole rally around Ron Paul.

    I want to add that in Ron Paul's history that wasn't mentioned in the debate that when Ron Paul was a doctor, his solution to people who wasn't able to pay was to waive the cost.

    It is one thing to say that relying on the generosity of doctors and/or private charities simply can't handle that role; Only the government have the capacity to ensure adequate care. That's a reasonable point. And frankly, I agree with that (I do think of all the options, single-payer at least logical despite what issues can said). It's not so reasonable when people counterpoints that Ron Paul is heartless and want to let uninsured died.

    My apologies to write such an off-topic point. I just hear too much of the last paragraph scenario or something similar. For my opinion of the tolls, my opinion is still changing on this. Originally, I did not find the prospect inviting on similar lines of thought of Suldog and I still like the idea that eventually it should go away. Yet, it is true that the roads somehow needs to be paid. And this does seem to work in other parts of the world. My point that I'm still trying to figure out is how much revenue do we truly need exactly to cover infrastructure. It just seems that no matter how much is raised from no matter how many avenues, the shortfall always remains. What changed from historical costs and revenues that we need to find new avenues? Still slightly off from the article, but it's a question about tolls vs other revenues in general.

    Someday I suppose

    Considering the Tobin has decreased the number of EZ Pass lanes to, apparently, make crossing it more dangerous, I assume there will be a fully electronic system once the robots become sentient and kill off humanity.

    Oh, to be fair, they recently added another EZ Pass lane now that the Tobin construction is on hold, bringing the net to -4. Well, this morning it was -3, since one of the cash lanes was closed to encourage people to stop in traffic and take in the views.

    The Problem

    In my humble opinion, if there are no human toll takers, and it becomes an all-electronic system, that institutionalizes the collection of tolls to a degree where there will never be a possibility of them being repealed. That is, if everybody has to have a transponder to travel that road, then the investment in that technology makes it near impossible that any toll will ever become a thing of the past.

    Am I wrong? Does anyone else see the possibility of tolls ever being eliminated if this takes place? Or am I just a paranoid libertarian?

    (Mind you, I'm not asking to begin an argument about whether or not tolls SHOULD be eliminated. But wouldn't this fairly much preclude that possibility out of hand?)

    Suldog
    http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

    That battle's long over

    Remember when the tolls were going to end when the turnpike debt was paid off? And then the turnpike authority issued new bonds for some cockamamie plan to widen the road to four lanes on a side from Natick to Weston? And then they canceled the plan, but now had 30 more years of debt? And then the Big Dig came? And never mind that meant east-west commuters were paying for a mostly north-south project?

    So as long as we assume the tolls are never going away, might as well join the 21st century and enlightened states such as Illinois, which have electronic tolling.

    Thoughts on "The Problem"

    The problem in my humble opinion, if there are no human toll takers, and it becomes an all-electronic system, that institutionalizes the collection of tolls to a degree where there will never be a possibility of them being repealed...

    Interesting idea. I suppose that if people read their bank statements, that increased auto-tolling would be more of a shock. Yet I imagine that most folks are already experiencing this with EZ pass. Would roads become more financed by the drivers who use them instead of public investments?

    If I recall Gov. Patrick floated an idea about a system in the future where all automobiles would have transponders and would pay taxes based simply on the number of miles driven. Ostensibly the gas taxes already indirectly take this approach as the more gas you buy, the more tax you pay. Depending on how it's deployed, Patrick's use tax could not differentiate between those who invest fuel efficient vehicles and those who drive land yahts.

    Sul, are you a "paranoid libratarian"? I don't know, but I think a healthy skepticism is always a good thing.

    Roads aren't free

    Gas prices and fuel efficiency keep going up, which makes raising gas taxes both unpopular and inefficient. Tolls are pretty much a guarantee, and I'd prefer them over taxi meters for personal use or a troll at the end of my driveway.

    But, people crashing into toll booths in the winter (or, let's be honest, on any given day), that we can get rid of.

    A camera that reads your

    A camera that reads your license plate to generate a mailed bill would be much quicker than the existing staffed booths.

    Of course the new technology will cost a lot. How long will it take to recoup the $100 million?

    And how much will it cost to process the paper bills? Most open-road tolling schemes have *huge* fees for this, several times the cost of the toll. It's basically a penalty for not getting a transponder.

    Then there's the issue of misreads. It's no fun to try to prove your innocence when you get a toll bill in the mail when you've never even been on the Pike.

    Ask Ernest and Myrtle

    who like to drive their 2004 Crown Victoria and keep their money in the bank and would never give out their credit card number to anyone because a guy they saw on the 700 Club said to not do that, don't ya know?

    Chicago

    The Chicago solution to this is the opposite of what much of the pike has now- instead of putting EZPass off to the side, the 2 or 3 cash lanes are put on separate lanes way off to the sides of the pass through lanes. Works like a charm.

    Better Yet

    A per mile tax by class of vehicle.

    Larger vehicles damage roads more, so a scaling would be in order. Additional tax for length of time studded tires are in use - they chew up the roads, too.

    More Sense Than Excise Tax

    Excise tax on vehicles is supposed to pay for roads and such, but the way it's levied is bizarre. It has nothing to do with use of the vehicle, but is based on worth of the vehicle.

    For instance, I drive a '97 Pontiac. Since the book value is fairly much nil, my excise tax is very low. I happen to not drive a great deal (under 7,500 miles a year) so a use tax wouldn't be a burden, either, but I could be driving 30,000 a year and pay the same tax. The amount a car owner pays is utterly unconnected to actual use of roads.

    Suldog
    http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

    True

    But the point is the same. We now levy taxes on auto use that have no monetary connection to actual usage of roads.

    Aside from this being fairly insane, for some people it also figures into decisions on whether or not to buy vehicles. I have put off buying a newer car because the combination of sales tax and rise in excise taxes would be higher than the repair costs on the older vehicle. If I was charged by use, rather than value of a vehicle, I might have stimulated the economy a bit more. Just saying.

    Suldog
    http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com