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Transportation Privacy The Almighty Buck

Automation May Make Toll Roads More Common 585

bfwebster writes "Here in Denver, we have E-470, a toll section of the 470 beltway, that uses the usual transponder attached to your windshield. Fair enough, and I make use of it, particularly in driving to the airport. But they've just implemented new technology on E-470 that allows anyone to drive through the automated toll gates. If you don't have a transponder, it takes a photo of your license plate and sends a monthly bill to your house. As a result, the company that runs E-470 plans to close all human-staffed toll booths by mid-summer. And as an article in this morning's Rocky Mountain News notes, 'Such a system could be deployed on other roads, including some that motorists now use free. The result: a new source of money for highways and bridges badly in need of repair.' You can bet that legislators, mayors, and city councilpersons everywhere will see this as an even-better source of income than red-light cameras. You've been warned."
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Automation May Make Toll Roads More Common

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  • by joaommp ( 685612 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:01PM (#26856539) Homepage Journal

    ...where everyone can be trusted and no one uses false plates to
    1) not having to pay
    2) just playing a prank to someone.

    It will happen the same as with the red light cameras. People will use false license plates or even no plates at all.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Not to mention using select foreign plates.

      How do you think a Russian or Polish plate will be handled?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by WeblionX ( 675030 )

        Polish I'm not so sure about, but it'll probably launch a rocket at your car if the plates are in Russian.

    • by MadnessASAP ( 1052274 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:28PM (#26857263)

      Seriously! You people down in the states still use toll booths? How deliciously quaint. Here in Ontario we've been using automated systems for a long time on the ETR with no problems well at least none with the actual mechanics of the system. The company that runs it are a bunch of jackasses and the government should be shot for selling it to that company in the first place but there you go.

    • Introduction of "random checks" near the tollbooths that prove to have a significant enough number of "bounced" toll charges.

      They have a photo of the car, driver and the license plate that "bounced" - they know who to stop.
      So, you either end up in some serious trouble for driving a car with fake license plates OR you don't get caught that time (cause you were not using them at the time) but you NEVER get the bright idea do that again.

    • by Giant Electronic Bra ( 1229876 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:47PM (#26857847)

      Because of course as soon as they bill you and find out you don't exist then they have a description of the car.

      In fact it would be much better than that for them. First of all the toll system can look you up RIGHT AWAY, and if the camera is smart enough to determine make, model, and color of car, then surely a mismatch comes up or the plate doesn't exist at all, and 5 miles down the road you're pulled over.

      And the fine for a fake plate, well it probably isn't pretty. It sure is a lot more serious than a speeding ticket. I'd be quite willing to bet that it costs more than the toll x1000.

      Even if they only figure it out a week later they still know what the car looks like.

      Now couple this with extra cameras the fact that it is getting pretty easy to track individual vehicles in real time and I don't think too many people would get away with it for long. They only have to EVENTUALLY bust 1% of the offenders to make it not worth doing. Especially if you get a 90 suspension or something.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Gordonjcp ( 186804 )

        First of all the toll system can look you up RIGHT AWAY, and if the camera is smart enough to determine make, model, and color of car, then surely a mismatch comes up or the plate doesn't exist at all, and 5 miles down the road you're pulled over.

        One of the problems in the UK is that we've recently changed the laws on getting number plates made up so that you need to bring the car's registration documents with you when you buy them. Unlike a lot of countries where you get replacement plates every year (or

  • As used in Ireland (Score:5, Informative)

    by hellsDisciple ( 889830 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:04PM (#26856565)
    This technology was very recently deployed in Ireland. There have been severe problems with it, including both the video and tag system simultaneously billing some customers. Funny thing is a lot of people forget there's a toll there at all any more - there used to be constant protests about the motorway in question.
    • by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:00PM (#26856975)

      As cities get more and more needy due to the collapse of society as we now know it you can bet that they will find ways of getting your money. Naturally the threat will be the loss of a drivers' permit.
                  There really is a solution. Get rid of your cars. That is the first lesson the homeless learn. The police use car related excuses to interview or harass them until they get rid of their cars. Wanted felons also understand that the only contact likely with the cops is if they drive.
                    In essence you are like the rabbit. Beg to be tossed in the brier patch. Once you no longer fear loss of that driver's license you have won the battle. No more tolls, tickets or meaningless interviews will trouble you. You'll save a fortune and your health will improve from the pedaling. If you are married to a lazy spouse you can bet that pedaling will take care of that relationship as well. You will also learn to live close to work saving you a bundle of time every day.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) *

        My car is the only thing that shields me from the failures of society. This 3mm steel wall between me and the scum is all I can ever hope to get in the now socialist Western Europe.

        I have no legally available weapon to defend myself against millions of knife-wielding gangsters in our buses and subways, the "youth", you know who I'm talking about.

        The police feeding off my taxes is overwhelmed with hundreds of calls every hour, while and because judges and state attorneys will free two out of three suspects b

      • hat is the first lesson the homeless learn.

        Only some homeless. However some homeless know how useful a car is. I used to know some people who lived in their cars. And having the transportation can make it easier to find and get a job.


      • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @08:40PM (#26859963)

        Exactly. Why is everyone so afraid of a user pays system? If I choose not to have a car, why should my taxes subsidize the rest of you??? I do have a car btw, and although I live around 10km from the office, I do around 800km a week of work related travel so the bicycle idea won't work for me. I tried it once and hayfever nearly killed me :(

        In the past 15 years we've had some major road upgrades done around Melbourne (Australia) which were funded via the use of tolls. I think it's a great idea. The amount of petrol you save by using the tollways goes a good way towards the cost of the tollways themselves, and you get where you are going faster and more safely. Even better, I use these tollways once or twice a year and so pay next to nothing for them!

        My biggest grumble is how we let big trucks trundle down the freeways when there is a perfectly good rail system running parallel to it.

  • Old news... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ArIck ( 203 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:04PM (#26856567)

    They have been doing this in Toronto with 407ETR for a long long time. Wonder why it just started in US?

    • Re:Old news... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:23PM (#26856703) Journal

      It's been done in the states for at least a decade. Toll tags and such are commonplace in the metro areas, and now there's even talk of turning some of our interstates into toll roads.

      I vehemently oppose the idea of toll roads on those "major artery" roads that connect our nation. It's one thing to add a toll road in an urban area where there are plenty of alternate paths, but placing an arbitrary price on traveling from one place to another is essentially restricting the right of travel. Our government should not be in the business of making it more expensive for me to go see my family 100 miles away.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ygslash ( 893445 )

      In Israel this has always been the only method. There have never been any toll booths - you drive onto toll roads at full speed, just like any other highway. It's really, really convenient.

      This is not an issue of the US being behind in technology and now catching up. It is an issue of the US being ahead in privacy, and now regressing.

      In Israel, the company that runs the toll roads has full access to everyone's auto registration data. They also have special police powers to impound your car without trial if

    • SH-130 and SH-45 in Austin have had this for a few years, since just after they opened the toll roads. It's nothing new.

      It's not likely existing roads will be retrofitted with tolls, though; a lot more people get up in arms when they have to start paying tolls on a road their tax dollars already paid to construct.

      In Austin, there were a few places where limited-access-style intersections had already been built where they wanted the toll roads to go (such as SH-45 and Parmer, or Loop 1 and Parmer). In both

  • by Reverberant ( 303566 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:05PM (#26856571) Homepage

    The result: a new source of money for highways and bridges badly in need of repair.' You can bet that legislators, mayors, and city councilpersons everywhere will see this as an even-better source of income than red-light cameras. You've been warned."

    Why is this a bad thing? If the users of the road have to pay a little extra to maintain the road they're using, I don't have problem with it. If the money is being poured into some politician's slush fund, sure that's a problem, but reasonable use fees are exactly what's called for her. It sure beats the "selective billing" process of red-light cameras.

    • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:10PM (#26856601) Homepage
      What is to stop someone from making sets of fake plates with YOUR number on them and running through these toll roads or red lights?
      already being done by kids here []
    • by japhering ( 564929 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:19PM (#26856667)

      The result: a new source of money for highways and bridges badly in need of repair.' You can bet that legislators, mayors, and city councilpersons everywhere will see this as an even-better source of income than red-light cameras. You've been warned."

      Why is this a bad thing? If the users of the road have to pay a little extra to maintain the road they're using, I don't have problem with it. If the money is being poured into some politician's slush fund, sure that's a problem, but reasonable use fees are exactly what's called for her. It sure beats the "selective billing" process of red-light cameras.

      Why is it a bad thing.. let me count the ways...

      1) typically, (at least in TX), the photo billed to the home address of the registered owner of the car.. carries a $1 service fee, + a 20% penalty (for not having the prepaid transponder) + the toll.. so a 50 cent toll is now $1.60 + check and postage

      2) Most of the money doesn't go back to up keep of the road .. it goes to profit for the corporation running the toll system

      3) If you piss off some one.. they will simply take a digital picture of your license plate and run through all the toll plazas they can find. And you will have to fight each one individually..If the person has any brains.. he will do it in the same make/model/year as your vehicle and you will never convince the the administrative judge it is not you, unless you in your car happen to trip through a toll plaza within seconds of the miscreant

      Don't laugh it is become a big problem in Europe where kids to get back a teachers.. take pic of the teachers license plate and then go speeding through as many speed traps as they can find. Each ticket running a few hundred Euros, unless you live in Finland where the ticket is a percentage of your income.

      4) Quite a few of the companies running such systems are run by European companies that take all the profits back home rather than reinvesting in this country.

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:20PM (#26856671)

      Because I'm ALREADY PAYING for those roads. I pay gasoline taxes, I pay income tax. Take a look at all the stupid earmarks on the last 2 bailout/stimulus plans. I bet that would fix plenty of roads.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Adambomb ( 118938 )

        This point of view currently makes SOME sense.

        Until alternative fuel cars become more common. Just because someone is driving an electric does not mean their car magically causes no wear on the highway. Would YOU want to pay more at the pump in terms of gas taxes to subsidize the roads for those not making use of oil?

        That's where gas taxes fail, when not all vehicles are consuming gas. This doesn't excuse the administrators desires to double-dip with bonus information gathering, it simply means they should

        • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:25PM (#26857227)
          Lets switch to charging a yearly fee based on the weight of your vehicle then. From a weight perspective, motorcycles/hybrids > cars > SUVs > Semis. Seems fair to me, as how heavy the vehicle is correlates directly to how much damage the vehicle does to the road.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by QuasiEvil ( 74356 )

            Yearly fee based on weight and mileage, in addition to abolishing gas taxes, and I might be in. Mileage is a requirement to make this work, as while I drive a old Civic on a daily basis, I have a 3/4-ton Chevy that I rarely move (except when I need to haul stuff). I don't want to be billed like it's my daily vehicle.

            I also don't want anybody monitoring where I'm driving, so no GPS crap. A simple radio odomoter reader will be just fine - possibly with the requirement that as part of renewing my plates ever

      • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:57PM (#26857517)

        Because I'm ALREADY PAYING for those roads. I pay gasoline taxes, I pay income tax.

        Income tax is insufficient to pay for our Federal spending (defense spending alone has roughly doubled since 2000). The US has a shockingly low gasoline tax by world standards (about 35 cents/gallon). And on top of that the taxes are collected and distributed inefficiently--- the barely-used Interstates in my home state (Vermont, pop ~600,000) are routinely repaved, while the highways in New York State (pop. 20 million+, not to mention traffic from neighboring states) are falling apart. This is inefficient.

        Additionally, it's a fairly basic reality that if you underprice a resource it will be overconsumed. This is one of the cornerstones of our economy, but for some reason we have the notion that we shouldn't apply this logic to public resources. I would much rather exchange the inefficient blanket gasoline tax in exchange for a targeted tax that collects revenue from actual road usage, at least for roads that are running near their capacity. This would reduce taxes and make sure the roads are maintained in accordance with their usage.

        Take a look at all the stupid earmarks on the last 2 bailout/stimulus plans. I bet that would fix plenty of roads.

        Sadly that's exactly what Congress insisted on. It's a stupid and inefficient use of Federal money.

        • by JoshHeitzman ( 1122379 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:24PM (#26857693) Homepage
          Except you won't be exchanging gas taxes for tolls. You'll just get to pay both.
    • by AlHunt ( 982887 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:21PM (#26856681) Homepage Journal

      >>everywhere will see this as an even-better source of income than red-light cameras. You've been warned."

      >Why is this a bad thing?

      Because "out of sight, out of mind". They'll add a toll to a previuosly toll-free road, live with the brief protest until it dies down and Voila! Instant revenue stream. Next thing you know, the entire legislature will be skinny-dipping in it.

      Once they start pulling invisible tolls, you can bet your last dollar (f you have any dollars left), that the now-collected gas taxes will be diverted elsewhere. Flordia legislators pulled this scam years ago with the lottery. They sold it on the basis that the revenues collected would go to education. What they failed to mention was that they'd reduce other monies going to education. Net result, schools in Florida benefited not at all, while the Florida legislature got more dollars to piss away however they wished.

      Your government treats you like a giant urinal cake. And if they can do it "out of sight" it's only going to get worse.

    • by M1rth ( 790840 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:21PM (#26856691)

      If the money is being poured into some politician's slush fund, sure that's a problem, but reasonable use fees are exactly what's called for her.

      It's always the slush fund. Houston, TX had a "toll road project" that was supposed to end the toll roads 10 years after the beltway was completed. How did they get around it? They put one little "spur" of 1/4 mile off the edge, claimed it was supposed to "eventually" be a mile long, and deliberately left it unfinished so that they can claim the project is "not completed."

      Meanwhile the state funding that was SUPPOSED to be going to widening TX-290 in Houston? Oh yeah, that got embezzled to pay for lobbying efforts on the NAFTA superhighway project that nobody wanted.

      Point being: it's always the slush fund that the toll road money goes to.

      The other thing we have in Houston now? They did away with the posted signage telling you how much the toll is. If you drive round the beltway and you have an "EZPass", you have absolutely no idea how much money you were charged until you get your monthly statement. There are no signs saying what the toll is to get on, No early-warning with "free exits" right before each big pay-plaza, and the only way you're going to find out the toll price is by going through the pay booth and asking the attendant.

      And of course there are certain areas (Westpark Tollway) that you're ONLY allowed onto if you have an EZPass. I wound up buying an EZPass just as a defensive measure because of the number of times cops have been caught forcing people over into the exit-only lane onto that toll road since it was built.

      Go through those gates without a transponder? Massive fine - and there's no appeal process, no way to get before a judge to say "Here's the situation, I couldn't safely get out of the lane, I got to the first available exit but they've put a toll reader before that exit." It's all a revenue scam, nothing more.

    • The problem is... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:28PM (#26856747) Homepage Journal

      That I already pay taxes to maintain the roads. I pay a federal tax on gasoline, which is supposed to be used to maintain the interstate highway system.

      I find it kind of unsettling that after taking my tax dollars to build and maintain their highways, certain states believe they can now charge an extra fee simply because the road passes through their state. If they can send me a bill for driving on a highway built with my tax dollars, perhaps I should be allowed to send them an invoice for reimbursement of the fuel taxes I paid while in their state.

      The idea behind having federal funding of roads is that you create a system of roads by which everyone is allowed to travel, free of charge. If individual states want to get into the toll-road business, we're going to end up like we were in the 30's and 40's, where there was no consistency in road quality and signage from one state to the next.

      • by David Greene ( 463 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:07PM (#26857047)

        hat I already pay taxes to maintain the roads. I pay a federal tax on gasoline, which is supposed to be used to maintain the interstate highway system.

        Except the federal gas tax has lost buying power over the decades as the tax has not kept pace with the cost of maintaining highways. The federal highway trust fund is bankrupt. I'd have more sympathy for your position if you were out advocating that the federal gas tax be raised to cover the full cost of driving (and it's not just road maintenance).

      • If tolls pay for the roads. There are an abundance of reasons why it makes much more sense to pay for roads with tolls.

        It would end the massive subsidization of the trucking industry, which is WAY less efficient at transporting goods than rail/intermodal transport. If the truckers had to actually PAY the full cost (and pass it on to their customers) that would internalize this cost. The result would be lower prices AND lower taxes for the average person.

        Why SHOULD I have to pay (and I do, the gas taxes only

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:37PM (#26856831) Journal

      Why is this a bad thing?

      Oh, I am a huge fan of road pricing, insofar it means making the people who use the road pay for it.

      There are two arguments against this:
      1) Privacy. If they implement this on all roads, the government or whomever owns the road has a nice log of where you've driven, day to day. Has your government ever given any indication that they are trustworthy enough to gain this information?

      2) As others have pointed out: this offers even better ways to milk motorists. And don't think people will protest too much if they gradually raise prices, that's what they've done over here. Motorists in the Netherlands already bring in 3 times the yearly road and public transport expenditure (for example: VAT + a special tax on new cars add as much as 66% to the sticker price); the rest is blown on other useless stuff. Once this system is in place, you can bet that prices will go up, a few points over inflation, every single year.

      Oh, and they get a free 100% accurate speed trap out of this. They've implemented such a system for just that reason around a few of our cities. At least that old system is anonymous (it turns the picture of your license plate into a "signature", which is compared against the signatures read at the end of the stretch of road being monitored. Only if a speeding violation is detected will it perform an OCR on the plate and send you the ticket. But for road pricing they need proof that you've used the road at the time you are billed for).

      • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:09PM (#26857071)

        I'm an old fart. Knowing my car is going to be tracked gives me the willies, just as knowing the NSA is reading all my emails and IMs, listening to all my phone calls, and watching all my web surfing.

        But look. It can't be prevented. Cameras are getting to be so small and cheap, and computing power is so ubiquitous, that it won't be long, a decade or two at the most, before 90% of the population has a full time camera as their collar button, broadcasting to a public server and archived for posterity, and every bozo that wants to will be able to see anything desired.

        I am serious about this. It cannot be stopped.

        But rather than gripe about something that cannot be stopped, I think about the consequences, and I tell you what, I think it will end up in greater freedom. Let's take this to an extreme. Suppose they can issue automatic speeding tickets to every car which passes cameras too quickly. They'll be issuing speeding tickets to half the cars out there. This obviously can't be handled the same as now -- they'd be suspending every driver within days or weeks.

        They will have to come up with an alternative, which I guess to be raising speed limits to something reasonable such that much less than 1% of licenses are suspended every year, and speeding will turn into minor revenue sources -- you want to get somewhere faster? Pay a buck or two more, or $5 more, and no points, no fines, no problem.

        Or consider the privacy problem. I sure don't like knowing I will be tracked everywhere I go. But consider what happens when everyone is tracked by everyone's cameras. It will apply to **everyone**, including the rich and famous, not just ordinary blokes. The billions of publicly available fully archived webcams will quickly outnumber politically controlled government cameras.

        Remember, there will be public broadcasts of billions of webcams, nice high resolution ones, with plenty of archival storage. Want to know who met with your local politician just before that vote change to help a huge contractor? Programs will abound which will search archives for specific individuals or cars, or just go to the politician's and contractor's houses, go back thru the archive til you find them, follow them backwards -- when they disappear off one webcam, there will be dozens or hundreds already picking up the trail.

        Just as the gun equalized "might makes right", eliminating the advantage of lots of idle time for sword practice which peasants didn't have, this ubiquitous surveillance will equalize anonymity. Ordinary people don't have much of it now; the rich and powerful do. In a decade or two, they won't have it either.

        When there are billions of webcams to choose from for your own idle pleasure or to target your computer search programs on, who would you rather see -- your neighbors who you already see all day, or Donald Trump? The rich and powerful have far more to lose than ordinary folk.

        We will *ALL* live in a small town where nobody can hide anything. I relish that thought and think it a damned fine tradeoff for loss of privacy.

    • by GraZZ ( 9716 ) <jack&jackmaninov,ca> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:10PM (#26857087) Homepage Journal

      Some Roman roads in medieval Europe were heavily tolled during the Dark ages by local lords, the Church and other authorities, making travel prohibitively expensive for all but the elite. This hindrance to trade, along with unsafe conditions for traders, is seen as a reason why the European economy was so stagnant during this period. (Sorry, it's the weekend, I don't feel like citing sources :P)

      This can be seen as the logic behind roads being a project funded from the public purse. If everyone has free/libre access to roadways as a result of the taxes they pay, then everyone is free/libre to use them to conduct trade.

      Think of it as the Net neutrality issue of the last millenium. ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by couchslug ( 175151 )

      We already pay fuel taxes, the money from which _should_ be used to fund road repair.

      Adding separate billing is absurd and imposes an additional compliance burden on users.

  • rental cars? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:05PM (#26856577) Homepage Journal

    seriously.. if I rent a car- I'm going to be back billed later by the agency?

    yeah- that's not an issue at all...

    • Re:rental cars? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by xstonedogx ( 814876 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:38PM (#26856835)

      If you've rented a car, then it's very obviously not an issue for you. You're already agreeing to plead guilty to any traffic ticket the car receives while it is rented to you (e.g., red light camera tickets) and have it charged to your credit card.

      • traffic ticket != usage toll

        Also, what do you want to bet the rental agency will kindly add their own "toll processing fee?" Say you racked up $10 of tolls while driving their car. Would you be at all surprised if they added a 5-10% processing fee to back-charge you once they get the bill?

        On top of all that, is the monthly bill itemized? I'm guessing not, since that would make it easier to dispute items. And if it's not, how can the rental agency possibly differentiate between you accruing a fee and the nex

  • by number17 ( 952777 )

    "People still aren't comfortable with tolling,"

    People are uncomfortable because of the unknown. Each town may have a different company managing the roads with different costs and fees associated. As a tourist am I hope I don't get 50 different bills in the mail for a nice road trip. Each bill with a $5 administrative fee.

    the ability to charge tolls without prepaid accounts or coins.

    Hopefully there will still be one lane open for coin/cash transactions.

  • Makes me glad I only put the required registration tags on my car, and keep my license "plate" in my wallet. Still, if I had mounted it, That's one hell of a camera if it can read that tiny text from a safe distance.

  • First Canadian! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scamper_22 ( 1073470 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:10PM (#26856603)

    First Canadian to post we have had this in Ontario for years now... called the 407.

    It's not a bad technology. However here, there is a crazy charge for the photo portion that basically makes it impractical not to have a transponder. Each time you don't have a transponder and get photoed... the charge is like 6 dollars or something. A monthly transponder is 2 dollars. So I just keep a transponder even though I don't use regularly.

    The only advice I would give is to make sure the 'toll' period is reasonable. In the 90s recessions, our government signed the highway away to a private company for a 99 year lease. Most other places in the world, it is common to see 10-20 year lease.

    Of course isn't this what the gas tax supposed to be for :) Oh the joys of non-dedicated government taxation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by scamper_22 ( 1073470 )

      dammit... not the one.
      No no not the one.
      Arlck is the one who was.
      I am the one who is to be.

      No body listens to scamper. Poor scamper.

  • ...Gas Tax? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RagingFuryBlack ( 956453 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:13PM (#26856617) Homepage
    Isn't the purpose of the gasoline tax in the United States to account for the wear an tear that your vehicle causes to the roads? If we start implementing tolling on nearly every major highway, we should start to see a reduction or removal of the gasoline tax. No way in hell should we be paying for something twice.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by japhering ( 564929 )

      Isn't the purpose of the gasoline tax in the United States to account for the wear an tear that your vehicle causes to the roads? If we start implementing tolling on nearly every major highway, we should start to see a reduction or removal of the gasoline tax. No way in hell should we be paying for something twice.

      Here in TX we are paying for some roadways 3 times..first with the gas taxes,, then with revenue from sales taxes and now the state is turning them into toll roads..

    • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:32PM (#26856777) Homepage Journal

      Figure that will be one way to sell it. Hello carbon tax.

      Yes it is not reasonable to you or me, however there are many who would like nothing more to "punish" people who drive cars, after all only the rich or those who don't care if they are destroying the planet will drive cars. Honestly this is how it will come to pass. We have toll roads that were supposed to expire (ga400) when they paid off, guess what, ain't happened and won't ever happen.

      Once a government gets a tax in it will take a change of government to remove it. I seriously doubt it will be republican or democrats that will help us.

      • We have toll roads that were supposed to expire (ga400) when they paid off, guess what, ain't happened and won't ever happen.

        Roads are never paid off. They require constant, and fairly expensive, upkeep. That's not to say that in your case, your government is not collecting more than the cost of upkeep, but the idea that one builds a road and then it just lies there forever is nonsense. Asphalt roads will disintegrate from sunlight alone, and even reinforced concrete slabs are subject to considerable wear a

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jipn4 ( 1367823 )

      Isn't the purpose of the gasoline tax in the United States to account for the wear an tear that your vehicle causes to the roads?

      Yeah, and then the Palins of this world redirect your tax dollars from California or Massachusetts to build roads and bridges to nowhere in their states.

      If we start implementing tolling on nearly every major highway, we should start to see a reduction or removal of the gasoline tax.

      The gasoline tax doesn't come close to covering the costs the automobile imposes on the nation. Cos

  • the company that runs E-470 plans to close all human-staffed toll booths by mid-summer

    Toll-booth operators taste just like veal.

  • by CultureFreedom ( 1106293 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:16PM (#26856641)
    As one other Canadian has noted in this thread, this technology has been deployed around the Toronto area for a while and works quite effectively. However, it's not correct for the author to say that Red Light Cameras are going anywhere soon; Toronto is already pushing to use this system instead. Some basic math can tell you that a driver who makes it between an on-ramp and an off-ramp in less than the maximum legal time it should take to travel that distance is speeding - the Ontario Parliament is already taking steps to use this to bill speeders instead of red light cameras because of the significantly higher volume on the highways as well as the dual usage of billing people for the toll road. It's a great system for raising funds for the repair bill of a road that's used often, but it will start to replace frequently sympathetic traffic cops with a trial-less ticket mailed to your door sooner than you think.
    • by dargaud ( 518470 )
      So what about people who drive with false tags ? Is there some kind of active alert or does it go to /dev/null ? I ask because it's probably a lot more common than you think: my father got in a fender bender; the guy gave him all the necessary info (ID, address, car registration, licence, insurance...), well it turns out everything was false ! Apparently you can purchase the whole package of false documents (including the car tags) if you go to the right places on the 'net.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Almost every toll booth in australia is automated. Just recently, the Sydney harbor bridge become completely automated. The biggest problem is that when you don't have an "E-Tag" on your car, the bill gets sent to your house with a $10 or more Administration Fee... So your $3 toll becomes $13 everytime you drive through

  • Gee, it's nice to see the government is getting busy creating new jobs.

    • You obviously don't live in capitalist america, it's not about jobs - it's about market efficiency.
  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:24PM (#26856711) Journal

    All roads in the U.S. and Canada are toll roads. You pay the toll at the gasoline pump through the ~70 cent per gallon tax. As it should be. If you're going to make use of government-paved roads, it makes sense to pay for that usage. Places with "extra" tolls are typically high-expense areas like tunnels & bridges where the gasoline toll is not enough to cover costs.

    Alternatively you could get a horse-and-buggy and pay nothing, like my Amish neighbors do. ;-)

  • I have an EZPass (the east coast automated tag thing on my car). I go to school in Washington, DC, and I live in South Jersey. When I drive, I don't notice the total cost of the tolls, and I think it's because of tag. I asked a friend to pick me up at a train station near the end of the MARC (Maryland's train system) line, and I ended up costing him $13 that he paid out of his wallet, and that's just on the way back from the train. I paid him back, but I didn't realize how many tolls there are on I95.

  • not the solution (Score:2, Informative)

    by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 )
    Making every single person slow down and just about stop on the highway is completely idiotic. Here's how Wisconsin does it, since toll boths are illegal here. We charge an extra high tax on the gasoline that's sold everywhere in the state. So there you go, the more you use the roads, the more you pay for them to be repaired. And compared to other states, we have really nice, well upkept roads so I guess it works, doesn't it?
    • So you never come down to Illinois, eh?

      We've got a bunch of toll roads around the Chicago area, and most of them have made it to "open road tolling" which means that, if you have an IPass, you just keep driving under the detectors, nobody slows down.

      If you don't have the IPass, you have to take something that almost looks like an exit ramp and either throw some coins in a machine or give money to an actual human.

      The IPass toll rate is about half of the cash rate, I think.

  • I ran into this system in Toronto a few years ago.

    There's no way to pay manually. Sections that are toll aren't well marked. Cost isn't clearly defined and changes as a function of time and/or traffic density. So when turning in the rental car there's no way to determine the charges for tolls.

    Months after the trip I got a bill from the car rental agency: cost of tolls + several taxes + surcharge by the car rental agency + a billing fee.

    Can you tell I'm not a fan of this technology?! Car rental agency added costs were more than twice the cost of tolls.

  • Austin's Bad Example (Score:2, Informative)

    by lenwood ( 930461 )
    I live in Austin. We recently got some new toll roads. The money for them was already allocated, but city counsel approved the decision to make them toll roads anyway. Then I learned that the company that has the maintenance/operating contract, Cintra, is a Spanish company. So we're not only paying for these roads twice, the profit leaves Texas. I'm boycotting the new toll roads, I hope the choke on them. I'm not opposed to toll roads in general. I recognize that the money for road maintenance needs to com
  • by dargaud ( 518470 ) <slashdot2@gdarga[ ]net ['ud.' in gap]> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:41PM (#26856863) Homepage
    In the middle age every road or bridge had a toll, and it is considered by many historians the one thing the kept their economy in the gutters. It was just too expensive to ship anything anywhere ! Think that France had extensive forests, but Louis XIV couldn't carry its wood from the center to the shore at affordable prices because of all the tolls. So the wood used in warship construction was purchased in Spain ! Well, the flip side of the coin is that France still has plenty of forest while Spain is mostly a desert since that time. The main roman advance is the construction of roads. Not the construction of tolls ! It kept the empire in one piece for half a millennium.
    • There aren't anywhere as many forests in Spain as there used to be in 1600, but mostly a desert? you've got to be kidding! There's a desert near Almeria, but it doesn't account for even close to 10% of the land area. If that's enough for you to qualify the country as a desert, I bet you'd claim that Africa, Asia and North America are mostly deserts too!

  • Why can't all ETC systems link up with ez-pass? so you don't have to have 2-3 transponders and accounts so you don't have to pay the higher non transponder rate?

    I can use my I-pass on all EZ-pass systems and get the lower transponder rates so Why Must I also get a sun-pass, TxTAGnetwork, C-Pass, Cruise card, EXpressToll, Fastrak, Good To Go!, K-Tag, MnPass, PalmettoPass, Pikepass, and Tolltag to use all toll systems in the us.

  • Is tolls at the RI/MA borders of I-95 and I-195. This isn't going to fly since a good chunk of the RI population drives back and forth on those highways into MA every day for work. And I'd be likely to replace my license plates with a LED display that changes the plate numbers on the fly. Wouldn't that be fun.
  • I worked on one of the most widely deployed automated toll road systems and it was pretty obvious that the strategic direction was to address the emerging market of corrupt politicians selling off public roads to private interests for instant money now.

    Problem is, when you have everything automated the only people with money to pay the tolls will be the owners. Of course, maybe that's the point. I mean who wants all that traffic congestion? In fact, who wants all that population?

  • Just look at how well that went with the Big Dig compared to, oh -let's pick something that cost about the same, the Chunnel.

    As a Midwesterner, I loath traditional toll roads for the high level of moronicity stopping and going entails. True, these automated systems modify the equation some but I still think our roads are part of the commons. Part of the "change" I would look forward to is a return to _less_ contractor influence and a little more sanity that we all have to pay for the various infrastructur

  • Initially the E470 toll road was envisioned as a loop around the entire Denver metro area, allowing easy access for people in the suburbs to the airport, the Denver tech center south of town, and the interstate roads toward the ski resorts. By bypassing all that traffic around downtown, they would ease congestion significantly, especially during the winter months.

    Unfortunately the residents of Golden, an upscale suburb slightly off the beaten path west of Denver, didn't like the idea of the plebians being able to access their town without having to jump through hoops to get there. They torpedoed the completion of the loop to keep the rabble out of their isolated, upscale community. The result of this is that any skiers coming from the heavily populated areas north of Denver are routed through the center of the city on their way to the slopes, causing congestion and traffic misery for both the tourists and residents.

    Meanwhile, not content to make up for massively cutting their operating budget by no longer having any toll collectors, thus slashing their payroll and ongoing operating costs to a bare minimum, the governing body of E470 implemented a toll raise to pay for the new automated technology that will save them millions yearly.

    Now that they've put people out of work, hopefully greed for the lost revenue in skier tolls they're missing out on every year will drive the owners of E470 to use that extra money to lobby various legislative bodies that will mandate the completion of the loop.

    The residents of Golden delayed the rollout of HDTV in Denver for years by blocking the construction of upgraded antennae, until finally it required a federal mandate to push things through. Let's hope that the E470 governing body's lust for capital is enough to trump the isolationists in Golden.

    Sometimes the only way to beat nakedly greedy, corrupt elitists is to sic other nakedly greedy, corrupt elitists on them.

  • by BrianRoach ( 614397 ) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:21PM (#26857191)

    The OP fails to mention some things about the C470/NW Parkway here in Denver

    It's pretty much the most expensive per-mile toll road in the country. And they keep raising the rates on it every 6 months.

    I could save about 5 - 8 minutes out of my 35 min commute if I used it. However, that would cost me $120 per month. $3 for 8 miles of road (each way) in my case. And that's *one* toll booth.

    And the reason those 8 miles would save me that much time is that no one uses the thing because of the ever-increasing tolls.

    I am being completely serious when I say that at 5pm (rush hour) on the northern 1/4 of the toll road, you would be hard pressed to encounter more than 6 - 7 other cars while on it. Meanwhile, the surface roads that run near it are packed with cars.

    And don't get me started about how the toll road always seems to be plowed when it snows while the surface streets aren't.

    It's not that I can't afford $120/mo ... I just refuse. It's the principle of the thing. I already pay for roads; it's called paying my taxes. Cut my taxes by $120/mo and I'll gladly pay for that road rather than the ones I'm using now.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.